Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Menu No. 2: poached salmon

Part 1 of the Culinary Foundations II competency final exam on Thursday will conclude with preparation of poached salmon. The complete dish will include a 4-ounce piece of salmon fillet, rice pilaf, sautéed zucchini, beurre blanc (butter sauce) and garnish.

Preparation of the poaching liquid, called a court bouillon, is the first step in getting the salmon just right. The liquid is one-half gallon of water, 1 cup dry white wine, 2 ounces of white wine vinegar, 1 cup mirepoix (diced onion, carrot, celery), herbs and spices and a bit of fresh lemon juice. These ingredients enhance flavor and cooking, including coagulation of proteins in the fish.

The salmon goes into the simmering liquid for no more than 6-8 minutes. The key is to cook it to moistness, leaving it slightly pink in the center.

Rice pilaf is cooked using a long-grain rice that has been coated in hot oil to opaqueness before chicken stock is added for a 15-20-minute simmer. It should be flaky and a bit moist, but not wet, and flavored with herbs added at the beginning of cooking.

The zucchini should be cooked to tenderness but not mushy, accompanied by crushed tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Chef Dan Fluharty showed us a method using canned crushed tomatoes. I hope to use fresh roma tomatoes that I will blanch, concassé and dice before putting them in the pot.

Beurre blanc is a rich butter sauce made with shallots sweated in a reduction of white wine and white wine vinegar, thickened with introduction of cold butter bits at a time until an emulsion forms. Vigorous and simultaneous shaking of the sauté and stirring of the ingredients is required to create the emulsion.

(Photo: my practice poached salmon dish from last week.)

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