Culinary School: Searing Foie Gras, Frying Scallion Pancakes, Vacuum Compressing Fruit and Baking Palmiers

Foie Gras & Cherries (Left); Me curving pork belly (Right)

Amazing week in culinary school combining french classics like Foie Gras, traditional Chinese cuisine like Scallion Pancakes, and Modernist cuisine using Vacuum Chambers to infuse fruit. As always we did lots of baking: palmiers, brioche, twists and more.

Grilled Rabbit Salad

This assembled Grilled Rabbit Salad was absolutely delicious. It was served on a bed of tatsoi leafs with halved cherry tomatoes, grilled turn cut Japanese cucumber, compressed fruit and grilled rabbit loin.

The really interesting part was Vacuum Compressing Fruit with the vinaigrette. We tossed nectarine wedges with a lemon, mint & cilantro vinaigrette and put that in a vacuum chamber. When we opened the bag the fruit was beautifully soft and infused with the vinaigrette.

Foie Gras and Cherries

This Foie Gras and Cherries dish was rich and delicious. The sauce was 1tbsp of the rendered foie gras fat with 1oz demi-glace. We then tossed halved cherries in that sauce. The tartness of the cherries and the richness of the demi-glace worked great with the foie gras.

How to cook Foie Gras: We cut a lobe of foie gras to approximately 100g slices, crosshatch scored presentation side, S&P, cooked in a hot pan until it has a beautiful crust, flip, sear for 30s and served.

Halibut in Sauce Vierge

This Halibut in Sauce Vierge on a bed of Haricot Vertes (lean green beans) looks great and tasted great.

What’s sauce Vierge? It’s basically a vinaigrette of diced tomatoes, salt, lemon juice, coriander, herbs and and olive oil. We let that marinade for 1h so the salt pulls out flavour and colour from the tomatoes.

Marseilles style fish soup with Rouille

All hail Saffron! This Marseilles style Fish Soup may look simple but it tasted rich and luxurious. It’s a slice of bread covered in Rouille floating in soup. The soup is primarily fish stock with Saffron and Pernod. The key takeaway is that with one “expensive” ingredient this simple dish felt luxurious.

What’s Rouille? It’s basically a mayo that has the egg yolk base mixed in with 0.25tsp saffron, 0.5cup of bread, garlic, fish stock and cayenne. The richenss of the saffron and texture we got from the bread make for a rich mouthfeel.

Crispy Pork Belly

This Crispy Pork Belly is Chef Alex Ong’s recipe and it turned out unbelievably crispy.

Here’s how to make this: We rubbed five spice on the bottom of the pork belly, poked a million holes in the upward skin side and air dried refrigerated overnight. We then created a thick (1cm) layer of salt on top of the skin and baked for 1h on 350℉. Finally we removed the salt layer and kept roasting on 450℉ for 30–45m until the skin was dry.

Scallion Pancakes

These Scallion Pancakes were the perfect accompaniment to that crispy pork belly. The interesting thing about making these was rolling, “laminating” and re-rolling.

  1. In a food processor combine 2:1 cups AP flour+salt : 190℉ water. That denatures some of the gluten.
  2. Knead until comes together and let rest for 20m.
  3. Cut a small piece and roll out to a flat disc. Brush that rolled out dough with sesame oil and roll it on itself. Then coil in it on itself, press down and roll out to a flat disc again.
  4. This time brush with sesame oil and sprinkle with sliced scallions. Again, Roll on itself, snake on itself and roll out to a flat disc.
  5. Shallow fry until deep golden brown.

Puff Cheese Twists

These Puff Pastry Cheese Twists were so soft. Shaping Twists is so interesting.

  1. Roll sheet of puff pastry into a rectangle.
  2. In the bottom half sprinkle cheese + salt.
  3. Fold the top half on the bottom half and roll a bit.
  4. Cut individual strips, twist them and let rest until cold.
  5. Bake at 400℉ for 20–25m until done.

Palmiers with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Gruyere

These Bacon, Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Palmiers were the first palmiers I’ve ever liked. Normally the filling and topping for Palmiers is sugar that gets caramelized and hardens during baking. That hard crunchy stabby texture always felt off for me.

The bacon, caramelized onions and cheese all had moisture which kept these Palmiers beautifully soft. And the taste was that of pure happiness.