Thursday, August 14, 2008

Seafood, Day 3

Today we did other sea creatures...lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp, and calamari. Mmmm I love calamari.
To remove the oyster meat, first clean the outside. They are dirty! Put cup-shaped side down on towel, then fold towel over flatter top. Stick in oyster knife (if you're going to do this a lot, get a good one - Sur la Table has a nice one that I borrowed from Irish) and when there is resistance, pivot knife to pop it. Then run the knife along inside to cut the abductor muscle at the top. Take off top, cut muscle underneath, then flip the oyster. Oh, yeah, and do all this without spilling the juice - apparently that's tasty. The third and last one I did, I finally did got it to pop really well. I tried one raw, but I didn't really like it. It was gritty and the consistency...I love squid in any form, but oysters...I don't know.
For shrimp, you just have to peel off the shell. This is realy easy to do. Don't forget to take the tiny legs with the shell! Leave the last segment before the tail on. To devein the shrimp, make a shallow cut with your paring knife along the top, and then pull out the vein (if it's dark, it has poop in it - really really tiny poop). Forget paying extra for shelled shrimp - this is so easy to do.
Tennessee and I made fried calamari. For the breading, we mixed flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and paprika. Season to taste (put a little on your arm and lick it - this is a really important step). Make sure you put in enough paprika so the flour is tinted - this will make a big difference in the golden brown color you get. Do breading stations - bread, egg wash (egg and little buttermilk), bread. Use one hand for dry, one hand for wet. Or bags - that works well too. By the way, and I say this with unashamed boasting, the one I threw together, it was the best one in the class. Tennessee grabbed the ingredients, but I put it together. Seriously. It was so good. Chef kept pointing back to our's as a comparison of the color other people should be getting. Again, camera would have been so wonderful here. Or you could just invite me over and allow me to fry up oil in your kitchen...
Then I sampled mussels (moules marinieres), shrimp tempura, and shrimp with garlic. I wasn't the biggest fan of the mussels either - similar feeling to oysters. My table did a good job with their recipes - i only sampled their's. Then they also made oyster po' boys for the class, but I don't eat mayo (hurts my stomach) so I just ate the delicious baguette Chef C made... so many carbs today. I walked out of class craving the spinach salad sitting in my fridge.
I've figured out who in the class is taking beyond their share of ingredients and why every time we cook some people get screwed - at the very least it's Sutra and Army. For the marsala, neither T nor I had any marsala wine, and there had been plenty in the bottle for the whole class. Luckily, there are kind people at our table, so we always share between each other, even if it means we end up with less than necessary for ourselves. Today, even though we were told to take less than 9 shrimp each, and Sutra somehow had about 20. Even after I pointed out to him that he should put some back so other people had some too, and he did, but apparently after I left he took more again. And Army, well, he sometimes takes other people's ingredients off their stations - and, he sometimes messes up his cooking, so he takes a second set of ingredients when other people haven't even had their first. You're not supposed to try again unless the Chef tells you to since ingredients are portioned out exactly per student.
Um. so. I kind of got in a giant fight with Nemo today. It's going to sound so stupid, and it totally is - he poked me at the end of class and told me I was going to be kitchen manager tomorrow. Which he knew I did not want to do (tomorrow is our final and I don't want the extra stress), so I said no. Twice, because he kept poking me. He walked away huffy and then told a couple people I wouldn't do it. Then when we were walking out in a group (regulars plus Whiskey since I now give him a ride home), he brought it up again. And, very loudly, I told him to stop making such a big deal about it already, which led to a back and forth shouting about who was making it a bigger deal, and then somehow he brought up how I had told 'people' about something from Friday, which I had not done, and I pointed out that he was the one actually telling people who weren't there... why we were shouting, I really had no idea. I'm not good at backing down when I think someone is being obstinate or saying something untrue about me (which is exactly when i should shut my mouth, since nothing is gained from an argument with someone like that). Possibly, he's frustrated with me because I haven't been as buddy-buddy to him this week as I usually am (I hang out a lot with Rico now); I have, actually, been a little sharp to him, but there's no specific reason so I can't explain it away to him...
Lessons learned:
Oysters live at the points where fresh water and salt water meet, and filter the water. This is why the juice in the shell is perfectly seasoned, and one can eat oysters raw without any extra seasoning.
The number on shrimp bags (ex. 31/35) is the number of shrimp per pound. So, smaller number means larger shrimp; larger number, smaller shrimp. Now you know for grocery shopping! Don't bother buying farmed shrimp - this is actually really bad for the environment.

No comments: