Have you read Part 1 of my Cooking Class at 1789? If not, what are you waiting for?
Here comes Part 2, in which I will share with you everything I learned about seafood from Daniel Giusti, executive chef at 1789.
The four types of fish that we had a pleasure of eating were: swordfish (on the left), red snapper (in the front), bronzino (the black skinned fish, that sounds like Bridezilla to me), sushi grade tuna (in the back) and halibut (that's the ginormous fish in the 2nd photo below). Despite the large amount of fish in the kitchen, nothing smelled fishy. Why? Because the fish was incredibly fresh. Fresh seafood smells of the sea.
Other things to check for when buying fish:
* clear eyes (by the way, speaking of eyes, if you are holding a whole fish, hold it by the eyes, not the tail. That's just one of the hints Dan gave us...not that I'm ever planning on buying and handling an entire fish)
* ask your fishmonger to scale the fish for you: otherwise, you'll be finding scales for weeks to come in all of the places you would never ever want to have scales
* it's better to buy fish with skin on and then remove the skin than buying already skinned fish (that ensures freshness!)
* when storing fish, keep it on ice and covered in ice in the refrigerator for no longer than a day
* use a very sharp knife (preferably flexible) when cutting fish
* keep fish portions to about 5 ounces
Here is chef Dan at work cutting out filets from a halibut. Did you know halibut is a flat fish? 1789 usually charges $32/piece, and there are 35-40 portions in this fish: that's a lot of money!
And here is chef Dan removing the skin of the fish.
Bronzino was baked in kosher salt. Simply clean the fish and lay it on top of a layer of kosher salt. You can stuff the cavity of the fish with hardy herbs, such as rosemary. Cover the fish with more salt and bake at 300 for about 20-30 minutes. (When baking fish in salt, keep the skin and even scales on: they will act as a barrier to prevent the salt from penetrating too much of itself into the fish.)
The halibut was cooked directly on a stove with quite a bit of European butter. Why European? Because European butter has more of a fat content (less milk solids) and doesn't burn as quickly at high temperatures. After searing the fish on both sides, it was basted with the butter: divine!
Swordfish was grilled. Check out the grill marks! You'd never know that this piece of fish was rescued after being stuck to the grill because the temperature wasn't hot enough.
Before I show you photographs of our lunch, a few more tips:
* slightly flouring fish will prevent it from sticking
* use clarified butter because it has a higher smoking point
* if you are cooking a fish with skin on, make a few shallow slits in the skin to prevent it from curling up during the cooking process
And now food! First of all, we were seated in one of the beautiful rooms at 1789. I must admit the decor is not really my cup of tea--I like modern, clean lines, but for once in a while special dining experience, the room was really pretty.
And we had wine!!! You never get wine with your food at Sur La Table. Alas, after doing more drinking during my 5 days in Spain than I do in two months, I only had one glass of wine.
And then the food started coming in: each course was served to us: what a nice way to eat :)
First up, tuna ceviche with microgreens and asparagus with a side of potatoes.
Then halibut with morels. This was the first time I've ever tried morels: I loved them! Despite the slightly scary and unappetizing way the morels look, they tasted awesome: not very mushroom-y. They were delicate, but at the same time held their shape.
Here's the bronzino: very mild flavored fish, that went great with the olive oil and herbs.
Swordfish with grain and greens. Sorry for the photo: you can hardly tell which is which.
I must have forgotten to take photos of red snapper. I'll blame the wine.
And then there was time for dessert.
What was your favorite cooking class and why?