Culinary School Week 7 Part 2: Lobsters, crabs and fishies!

Friday was a fun day at school.  We had done oysters, clams and mussels on Wednesday, and now we continued with crustaceans and we got to break down our own finned fish.

We worked with Spiny Rockfish. This is considered a “round” fish, like salmon (as opposed to flatfish, like halibut). Chef Sakai sliced himself pretty good after the banquet on Thursday, ending up in the ER with 5 stitches. He seemed pretty non-plussed about it, but as one who has sliced his thumb pretty deep (the knife was utility, not chef) I can tell you this isn’t fun. In any event, he observed as Chef Stockman did the demos this time.

She demoed the fillet process with one of them. I’ve filleted quite a few salmon, and for this task I have used the fillet knife my father, Paul Goertz, made for me. (Some day I’ll do a blog post about him, his love of food, and his post-retirement career as a knife maker.)

Spoke too soon

Chef Stockman taking her cleaver to get through the spine of this tough rockfish

My finished fish. Fillets are on the bottom, then skin, then the head and body. My father's fillet knife is on the top with the long skinny blade

My finished fish. Fillets are on the bottom, then skin, then the head and body. My father’s fillet knife is on the top with the long skinny blade

But these little buggers have REALLY tough bones, and I ended up having to use my chef’s knife to get through the bones, especially the spine when I cut off it’s head. It took Chef Stockman a couple of attempts to get through them. Eventually she resorted to her cleaver.

After the demo, we all got our own fish to play with. As I said, I’ve done this a few times on salmon, but found I needed to use my chef’s knife to get through the spine, and amazingly, the “pin” bones, the bones that come out to the sides that you go through when you are cutting off the fillet.

Chef Sakai seasoned one up in flour and sauted it in butter, and it was pretty good. Very much a standard white fish, but pretty firm in texture. I can definitely see this as fish and chips in my future!

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For scale, the lobster is in a standard hotel pan, almost 21″ long and 13″ wide

After that, we proceeded to the lobster and crab.  I actually filmed the lobster being, uh, dispatched, but the video was the wrong orientation (it looks great on my phone), I’m not sure how to rotate it for this blog. But it was a monster. Chef Sakai says it cost the school about $45.

The crab is a regular Dungeness from the waters off of Washington. I’ve had them many, many times. Both were just boiled for a few minutes, and as we had done with all the other seafood, we tried it “neat”, without anything. Again, I had only eaten lobster with drawn butter or some sort of sauce, but eating it without any sort of flavor enhancer does give you a better idea of what it really tastes like.

That was it for Week 7. We only have 4 more weeks in the quarter, and that includes finals. Getting down to the short strokes. I’m looking forward to having a few weeks off for Christmas break.

See you all next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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