Becoming a chef - week 6...

Week 6 of chef's training at JustCooking started with some theory in the morning (allergens, manu planning and menu costing, preventing food waste in the kitchen...) and then we all headed to IT Tralee Coulinary Department.

The visit started with a lunch in HCT Training Kitchen - where all the meals are planned and prepared by the students (this time it was the 1st year students that cooked). The menu wasn't complicated, two choices for starters and desserts and three for main (one meat, one fish dish and a vegetarian option as well).

Considered, that all was prepared by students, each component of every dish. Students, who as us are still learning, it was a very good effort and we've all enjoyed it! Because there were 7 of us, and we all tried to ordered something different between us, we had an opportunity to try every dish on the menu that day!

After the meal, came the tour of the college's facilities. All the different, professional kitchen setups, pastry kitchen, different ovens (including a tandoori oven!), and all the stove tops you might come across in the industry (gas, electric, induction and grill). It really is one of the best culinary institutes in the country, not only with great facilities but also with amazing (well experienced and knowledgeable tutors!). I'd say that if I was starting again, had "another shot" at going to college - this would be on top of my list!

It wasn't all lunches and sightseeing that week though ;) First thing next day, we were back to business and it got serious pretty quick! You see that poor creature below, well it was up to us to butcher it (we also found out that kidneys and liver were left for us to use and enjoy too! heart and lungs apparently are not hat good, so were discarded). It was very educating, to be able to butcher the whole animal with your own hands, well, knife.

Deep fried ox tongue, fried ox tongue in jus glaze, celeriac remoulade and confit rabbit leg slice.

I'm used to seeing "dead" rabbits. It brought many memories from my childhood, as my both granddads kept rabbits. I get to feed them, play with them a bit and then, when the time came... eat them too! I was only few years old, but I still remember how they would butcher the animal, so it was (and still is) something very "natural" to me, part of life.
I'm trying to bring my own girls the same way - they do know where the meat comes from (and no, not from the supermarket shelf), they were calling milk "cow's juice" for quite a long time ;) and when we eat chicken, pork etc. they do know from which animal it comes and which part of their body it is.

Pasta made from scratch

Sweet potato lasagne, pan fried loin of rabbit in herb crust, confit rabbit leg ravioli, potato rosette, kidney, jus and herb oil.

The dishes we put on the plate are becoming more and more advanced and elaborate. We get to learn and do things which probably wouldn't take place in my everyday kitchen (but it doesn't mean they won't from now on - one has to practice!).

You have to smell it to know it's fresh

Finns off, guts out, time to cut this baby into pices, erm, fillets ;)

How to fillet a flat fish (as it's completely different story than with the round one!)

What I was really excited about that week was the fish filleting! I do admit of having, somewhat of a "fear" of whole fish, well, maybe not fear, but a hell lot of lack of confidence when dealing with anything with scales! So, I can finally confirm - I conquered that beast! Actually, two of them! :) We dealt with WHOLE sea-bass (guts and all) and a plaice. So now, without any fear at all, I can fillet both - round and flat fish! Thank you chef.
But, please, don't ask me to put more of those potato scales back on the fish any time soon...! ;)

Potato scaled sea bass on celeriac puree and baked tomato and courgette with herb oil.

During the week 6 I was also thought how to properly pan fry a scallop. Simply thing you might say, but you really have to get it right, there's really nothing worse than undercooked, or overcooked, or "steamed" rather than pan fired and caramelized scallop.
I also have to admit that I'm rather proud of myself and how I'm starting to plate the dishes. Finally, all those years of watching MasterChef, hours spent on Instagram are paying off! At least that's what I keep telling myself... ;)

Scallop, black pudding bon bons, sweet potato puree, pea puree, crispy shallots and red onion marmalade.

     - mine: still 10, still intact 
     - other's: all OK as well :)

Tips & Tricks learned:
     - yes, fresh fish is ideal, but not always a possibility, so when buying frozen fish look for IQF: individually quick frozen
     - when frying scallops your pan has to be smoking hot to get that golden colour, caramelized sides, and don't move it for 2 minutes after putting it on the pan! 
     - did you know: amouse bouche - is a hot single bite size canape, when amouse gueule - is a cold one

Beetroot cured salmon with pickled cucumber, thyme crackers and smoked salmon pate.

You can catch up with all the other weeks HERE.