Culinary School: Clams, Mussels, Scallops and Fish

Me slicing cured fish; Shellfish at Monterey Fish

Mindblowing week at Culinary school focusing on clams, mussels, scallops and other seafood. I wasn’t a big shellfish fan at the beginning of this week and totally flipped by the end of it.

Monterey Fish Market in Pier 33

Like every epic journey, this one starts of with immense unparalleled difficulty. I had to wake up at 4:30AM to go to Monterey Fish Market *audible gasp* and then head to work afterwards. I’m super glad I decided to attend this field trip. Tom the owner was super insightful and instructive when speaking to us. Being fortunate enough to hear someone who is passionate about seafood produce, capture, processing and cooking was an immense treat. Even at 6AM. Also, seeing some guy I’ll never meet again break down a tuna in under a minute was a humbling experience.

Deep-fried scallops

Deep fried Scallops are pretty much the best McNugget I’ve ever had. Scallops have this intense flavour when cooked on the outside and left slightly underdone in the center.

How to make Deep Fried Scallops:

  1. Clean scallops (remove side muscle)
  2. Flour, Egg wash and cover in breadcrumbs.
  3. Deep fry in 350°F oil until dark golden on the outside

This Clam and Pea Soup had a nice spring feel to it and was my first experience working with clams. The soup was just onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley and clams.

Working with clams: Place clams in a covered pot over high heat. Cook 5m+ until they all open up. Strain the flavourful liquid and add to soup/sauce. You can remove clam meat from shells or serve as is. Never boil clam meat or it’ll become chewy.

Mussels Fra Diavolo

We made Mussels Fra Diavolo. Fra Diavolo sauces (“devil sauce”) are predominately tomatoes based sauces with chili flakes or ground cayenne peppers. Our sauce had onions, garlic, tomatoes, wine, chili flakes, parsley, basil with mussels and topped in olive oil + S&P.

Working with Mussels: Make the sauce and bring it to a boil. Then add mussels, cover, stir a few times and wait for all the mussels to open. Let sit for a minute off the heat off and serve.

Petrale Sole fillet with butter lemon & caper sauce

We filleted Petrale Sole fish which was our first time filleting a flat fish. We served the cooked fillet with a pan sauce of butter, capers and lemon juice and a side of sautéed spring beans.

Filleting flat fish:

  1. Start top-side up, belly facing towards you with a fish fillet knife.
  2. 0 millimeter in: Outline the fish with a knife to make it easier.
  3. 2mm in: Xylophone. Start “xylophoning” on the bones moving the knife in fluid tail-to-head motions. Moving ~2mm in with each stroke.
  • 1cm in: Rib cage. make sure to get above the rib cage still xylophoning.
  • 50% in: Spine. Get over the spine. Flip fillet over to make it easier to work with.
  • Flip bottom side up and fillet the bottom side.

Smoked fish salad (left); Smoking fish (right)

You guys, we smoked fish! and made a smoked fish salad. The salad had a base of horseradish+sour cream, frisee+watercress in citrus vinaigrette, coined radishes, supremed grapefruit, boiled fingerling potatoes and topped with smoked fish and french radishes. YUM!

How to smoke fish: In an aluminum covered hotel pan add “fuel” (brown sugar + rice). Top with a holed hotel pan that has fish fillets and cover with hotel pan lid. Put the whole thing on flames for 30m-1h until fish is cooked all the way through. The flavor of smoked fish is super intense.

And finally we made our own version of Deconstructed S’mores with brûléed marshmallow creme, chocolate gelato and crumbled graham crackers.

Chocolate gelato: simmer some milk, temper with more milk, cocoa powder and cornstarch. Add back to stovetop until thickened and simmering. Fridge and then spin in ice-cream maker until it comes together

Marshmallow fluff: Just an Italian meringue. (240°F sugar mixture into soft peaks egg whites). Whip until shiny and cool. Add flavor liquids (e.g. vanilla). Spoon on plate and brûlée.

Graham crackers: just a cracker with an interesting flour mixture (50% AP flour, 50% graham flour) containing honey & brown sugar and finally topped with cinnamon and sugar.