Oct 31 2010
I now know the anatomy of a fish more intimately than I ever thought I would. This week at school we had a workshop in all things fish — cleaning, scaling, fileting and finally, of course, cooking. This is where those knife skills we’re supposed to be mastering really come in handy.
We each practiced by fileting one fish, and in all honesty, I wish I could do a hundred more. It’s kind of fun! Should I be worried about myself that I can look a dead fish in the eye and cut straight into it? I’ll save that question for later soul-searching.
In sum, you cut into the fish right behind the fin until you feel the bones below, and then you drag your knife to the back of its head. Then you follow the lines of bones all the way down his back to his tail, and then make a slice back to where you started. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side, and voilà! Two fish filets, just for you.
The first way we prepared the filets was very elegant, and very French. Behold the Fish with Scales:
Covering the presentation side of the fish are layers upon layers of very thinly sliced red potatoes (using a mandoline). You sauté the fish, potato side down in a frying pan with plenty of butter and serve it with a beurre blanc sauce on the side. Mm.
Next we steamed the fish in parchment paper, one of my favorite preparations:
Basically you wrap the filet up with any of your favorite delicate veggies and herbs — we used cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, shallots and tarragon — and drizzle in a little white wine. Then seal it up and bake it in the oven until the pocket is filled with steam. This method may also be the ONLY healthy recipe we’ve followed at school so far.
And besides that, it’s gorgeous, and you have your whole meal in one pouch. My instructor noted that we should use our most attractive filet for the first preparation and save the one we botched for this one, because you can hardly tell what’s going on under all the veggies.
That’s a low-maintenance meal I can appreciate, and I think it’s on the menu for tonight.