Sunday 28 January 2007

Mullet deconstructed....

Yesterday's Triglie recipe came under review over dinner last night, and in conclusion it was found wanting. Not for its flavour, which was splendid, nor actually anything to do with the end result at all......but the techniques used to get there were decidedly confused, and definitely up for revision. In brief, the question that went unanswered was: What's going on with the breadcrumb treatment?

If you are going to use breadcrumbs - it was posited - wouldn't it make more sense to follow a more usual egg-and-breadcrumb process, which will result in a good crisp coating once the fish have cooked? This then begs the question, why coat the fish in breadcrumbs, and then make them soggy by drizzling marinade over the top of them? And with the efficient temperature controls of modern ovens, why should you have any concern that the fish might dry out, since you can control the oven temperature in a way designed to prevent this, rather than soaking it in further drizzlings of marinade? (NB. Harold Magee is quite interesting on the subject of the effect of modern temperature controls on traditional cooking methods - I forget in which of his two books, but since they're both worth reading, it doesn't much matter which...) In general, it was concluded that the recipe as quoted was a confused misunderstanding of different cooking techniques, and that there was a more sensible way to achieve at least as good a result.

The upshot of it all was a decision that the fish should be egg-and-breadcrumbed, and kept well away from the marinade thereafter. Best of all, would be to shallow fry them, rather than baking them - but for that you'd need to have them gutted with much more care than the hack-and-slash method generally adopted these days, which doesn't really leave a usable cavity for stuffing so much as a widely gaping v-shaped gash. If you tried to fry this sort of road-accident-gutted fish with any kind of stuffing, the stuffing would be all round the frying pan in about two nano-seconds! Talk then wandered off onto the possibility of gutting through the gills, and leaving the stomach which point, it seemed a good idea for somebody to make themselves useful and get round to producing some coffee, instead.....

Dario turned up for dinner with a Dessert offering from Salza, in Borgo Stretto - slices of a sort of lemon and chocolate mousse confection. So the Frozen Hazelnut Zabaglione stayed in the freezer for use tonight.

Today's menu:

Pear and Parmesan Ravioli.

Rabbit in Garlic. A version of a recipe which apparently originally came from Jacques Pepin, and was then 'adapted', to remove the alcohol; for present purposes, it's been re-adapted back in the direction of the original.

Frozen Hazelnut Zabaglione, with Fruits de Bois coulis. The recipe for this is given below.

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