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All About Fish and Crustaceans

Published

21st June 2017

We thought you may like to know a little bit about the fish we prepare and cook during our Fish and Crustacean Course. It must be said though, that it’s not just about preparing Fish and Crustaceans; the gorgeous Crab Tart requires a very delicate ‘Pâte Brisée’ which is a really short pastry! A trip to a local market to buy fresh vegetables and herbs for the meals you will cook is also part of the experience. The full course details can be found here.

Sea bass has a mild, subtle flavour. It is moist and flaky when cooked. The body has small scales, the mouth is large, and the tail is generally straight-edged or rounded. The dorsal fin consists of a forward, spiny section and a hinder, soft-rayed section; the two portions are usually joined but may be separated by a notch. They vary greatly in size from 2cms to 2 metres depending on the species.

Red Mullet is a lean fish. It has a fine and delicately flavoured, white, textured flesh. It is a light-pink fish with a jacket of scales with a relatively stocky cigar-shaped body and a forked tail. There are two distinct dorsal fins, the first containing four stiff spines.

Salmon has oily flesh and skin which keep it super moist, and its meaty texture will satisfy the appetite. It is a delicious and versatile fish. Different varieties of salmon vary substantially in taste and texture, but they all share one key trait: remarkably high levels of Omega 3 fats which have fantastic health benefits such as improving the risk factors for heart disease and age related mental decline.

Trout are closely related to salmon. The meat of Trout is delicate with an earthy taste.  The flake is small. They have fins entirely without spines, and all of them have a small adipose fin along the back, near the tail. The pelvic fins sit well back on the body.

Crab has white and brown meat. The white meat comes from the claws and legs of the crab and is very low in fat and particularly high in protein, it has a delicate, sweet flavour, a sweet aroma and a naturally flaky texture. Brown meat is from the body of the crab. It has a higher natural fat content, but is also extremely high in Omega-3.

Lobster has its own unique flavour – it has a mild and slightly sweet taste with the texture somewhere in between shrimp and crab.  While lobster isn’t really flaky like crab, it isn’t as chewy as shrimp. Lobster is sometimes described as melt-in-your-mouth and it is leaner than chicken.

Lobsters are invertebrates with a hard, protective exoskeleton with long bodies and muscular tails. Three of their five pairs of legs have claws, including the first pair, which are usually much larger than the others.

Mussels are an orange fleshy animal protected inside two dark shells. They can close their shells so they don’t dry out when the tide drops, leaving them out of the water. Mussels are normally around 3cm long, but can grow up to 8cm. They are fairly meaty but delicate in texture and are rather rich, having a higher fat content than most molluscs.  The taste is almost like a super-good mushroom but with the flavour of the ocean.

Clams have two shells of equal size connected by two adductor muscles and have a powerful burrowing foot. They are less delicate in texture to Mussels; less ‘meaty’ with a slightly salty, slightly sweet taste of the ocean.

Just to whet your appetite, here is the recipe for Roast Fillet of Sea Bass with Avoines Risotto which we prepare during the course.

Ingredients:

2 sea bass (600g each), olive oil 3 shallots, sliced 80g button mushrooms, sliced 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 100ml dry white wine, 400ml veal stock, salt and pepper and 1 tbsp butter

For the Avoines Risotto:

100g dried Avoines pasta, 1 onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves crushed, 100ml dry white wine, 200ml vegetable stock, olive oil, grated comté cheese and salt and pepper

Scale and fillet the fish, remove any pin bones.  Rinse under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper.  Score the skin of the fish several times, leave the bones to soak in cold water.

To make the sauce, heat a little olive oil in a pan and cook the shallots for about 5 minutes until golden and soft.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

Drain the fish bones, add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the vinegar, wine and let it come to the boil for 3 minutes, adding the stock and season lightly and simmer for 30 minutes, skim where necessary.

Pass through a sieve, bring back to the boil and whisk in the butter to thicken the sauce.

Heat a non-stick frying pan until smoking hot, add a few drops of olive oil, then add the fish, skin side down.  Season with salt and pepper and press the fish down with a palette knife if it begins to curl up.  Once the skin is well browned, turn the fillets over and cook the other side.

To prepare the Avoines Risotto, sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until soft, add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the wine and cook out the alcohol, add the stock and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta in al dente.  Add more stock if necessary, season.

Serve onto the plate and sprinkle over the cheese.

To find out more about the Fish and Crustacean course click here or if you can’t make up your mind and wish to look at our other courses click here.

Dave, Vikki and Bernard

David, Vikki & Bernard

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