I was really looking forward to the seafood class because I really like cooking with seafood for health reasons and taste. I thought I would prepare well for this class now that I know how the routine works. We were told we would have to make 5 or 6 dishes with the available seafood so I thought I would prepare by practicing some dishes at home and having a good idea of how to make them prior to class. I’ve wised up a bit over the 26 classes so I now can actually think on my feet without being recipe-dependent, although I still find it hard to remember all the ingredients in dishes without referring to a recipe, but I’m getting much better. The week before class I drove my husband crazy making seafood. One night I made Shrimp Etoufee, Shrimp Victoria, Oyster Tostadas, and Shrimp Hushpuppies. I made several versions of Shrimp Hushpuppies until he couldn’t eat another one. I made homemade mayonnaise for aioli and wanted to make Shrimp and Grits but ran out of time during the work week. I thought about seafood recipes all week long, going over the ingredients in mind during the boring meetings at work. All my dishes were good, except the Shrimp Victoria–I didn’t like the sauce. Once I perfected the Shrimp Hushpuppies we all loved them. I had Lobster Hushpuppies at the Lonesome Dove restaurant a while back–$12.00 for 3 or 4 little hushpuppies, so I thought this would be a great dish. I planned to plate it with a corn relish and some of my aoili.
Class started with an excellent lecture by Chef Loy on the basics of seafood, including market forms, inspection, and storage as well as the various types of fish and cooking methods. He demonstrated filleting a whole salmon as well. We “mised” as a group, a good way to be ahead of the game–chopping onions, mincing aromatics, cooking rice and pasta, etc. We then had less than 2 hours to prepare at least 5 dishes using scallops, mussels, clams, oysters, salmon, grouper, crap, squid, and flounder. We also had to make at least 1 dish with lobster. I felt frantic when I looked at the clock–7:30 and heard the last dish had to be presented by 9:20. I made the following dishes:
Shrimp Etoufee Oyster Tostadas with Andouille Cream Sauce, Spinach Salad, and Aioili
Salmon with Citrus Salad
Seared Flounder with Tarragon, Parsley, Citrus Gremolata
Lobster Salad on Field Greens
My Shrimp Etoufee was awful. I had made some at home using the same ingredients and it was wonderful! Seriously good so I don’t know what happened–too much worchestershire sauce and just off tasting. My roux was not developed enough–although the recipe I tested called for a light roux–Chef Sively insisted the roux had to be dark. The Oyster Tostadas were stacked mini corn tortillas with fried oysters, Andouille Cream Sauce and salad in between layers was OK, too heavy on the aioli and the tortillas not crisp enough but tasty and nice looking. I felt good about this dish overall since it was so complex. I made the aioli (homemade mayo) by hand and it was really good. My oysters turned out great and I had to learn to shuck them myself, although Lisa Wright helped out a lot!
The Salmon with Citrus Salad was almost a disaster. I seared the salmon in clarified butter then added some garlic. The butter was so hot it burned the garlic. Yikes! I quickly picked out the burned garlic but a few specks were left so it looked over-peppered. However, the salmon tasted pretty good and my Citrus Salad was good–too much grapefruit but still had a good taste.
Time was speeding by and I had only done 2 dishes. I waited in line for 15 minutes, no exaggeration, for my first dish to be checked so I didn’t start on dish 2 until 8:20, so 1 hour left to make 4 dishes. I wanted to make my Shrimp Hushpuppies but I couldn’t locate any cornmeal. (Which wasted several precious minutes while I searched) I started throwing stuff together like a maniac so I could finish on time. I seared the flounder, added some stock, parsley, tarragon, lemon zest and salt and pepper, with some asparagus. The fish and sauce tasted good but the plating was very dull–just a flat piece of fish sitting on the plate with some asparagus. I had intended to make some couscous but not enough time was left. I still had to make something with the lobster so I made a lobster salad with tarragon and put it on some greens I dressed with a quickly made lemon vinaigrette.
It was another “OK” dish but lack something. I was just relieved I made all 5 dishes! I figure I spent at least 30-35 minutes waiting in line so I was able to make the dishes in 1 1/2 hours.
Not too bad!
Shrimp Hushpuppies
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 T all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg yolk
1 cup buttermilk
2 egg whites
8 oz chopped shrimp
2 T minced scallions
2 T minced parsley
1 T minced jalapeno pepper
2 T chopped cooked bacon
Mix dry ingredients, add all other ingredients except egg whites. Whip egg whites to soft peaks, then fold into cornmeal mixture. Deep fry in 350 degree oil. Drain on paper towels.