Lesson 37: Poaching

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To be honest, I wasn't too impressed with poaching today.  I was hoping that it would be like steaming, another healthy way to prepare proteins and vegetables.  It was definitely very healthy, but not as flavorful and interesting as steaming.

Yet again, I have practically no experience with poaching (with the exception of eggs- which I am horrible at)... I'm beginning to really realize how little experience I have with cooking techniques!  Learning how to poach is definitely essential and I tried to absorb as much information today as possible.  For most of our dishes, we were instructed to make a "court bouillon", which is a poaching liquid that usually consists of wine, an acid (vinegar and/or lemon juice), stock, and a variety of spices and herbs.  This "concoction" is what adds flavor to what is being poaches, as opposed to using just water.  It is also essential to season the items very well!

Today we "deep-poached" salmon tranches, whole fish, artichokes, and cauliflower.  I learned that artichokes are a lot of work to prepare in exchange for a small amount of edible parts.  I now know why I have always just bought artichokes prepared in specialty food stores, jarred hearts, or frozen hearts.  But now I'm in culinary school and I have to trim each and every choke :-/.

The one dish that I really enjoyed today was the sole polippote with leek fondue.  I began by fillet'ing 2 flat fish (I think they were actually flounder..).  I rolled each fillet with the leek fondue (sweated leeks and orange zest).  I buttered strips of parchment and wrapped them around each fish roll-up.  The liquid that they shallow-poached in consisted of a very sweet white wine (like a Moscato), fish stock, lemon juice, and shallots.  

Once the liquid came to a simmer I placed the pan in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes (flipping the roll-ups halfway through).  When the fish was done, I took it out of the pan and strained and reduced the sauce.  I added a bit of beurre manie to thicken it (kneaded butter and flour) and a few splashes of heavy cream.  I added a touch of lemon juice and mounted the sauce with whole butter.  The result was a creamy, sweet, zesty sauce served with a moist, flavorful fish.  I loved the flavor and texture the leek fondue added to the fish.

Unfortunately, we were given bad news today and Chef Karen will no longer be our Module 2 Chef (except for on Fridays).  Chef Anna will take over starting tomorrow!  It is always interesting to get a new chef and learn different tips and techniques, so I am sure tomorrow will be a positive new experience!  Looking forward to upcoming challenges and pressures in the kitchen!!


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