Westminster Kingsway College – Cooking School (Day Four)

Posted on Wednesday, 11th March 2009

We have now migrated from vegetables to fish, and I’m delighted that we’re starting to cover the meatier, more substantial stuff. As much as I appreciate some good veg, I do like my meat, or fish as the case might be. Filleting and skinning were the order of the day. The former requires good knife skills of course. As for skinning, once you find the angle at which you ought to guide your knife along the fish, well, it isn’t really so hard after all. Patience and care are what is needed.

We covered how to poach a darne of salmon, which is the middle cut of the fish; in a court bouillon made from water, malted vinegar, onions, carrots, bay leaf and peppercorns. As for the filleted fish, a plaice, we churned out deep-fried goujons and shallow-fried fillets finished with beurre noisette (a brown, nutty butter sauce). At what seemed like a quarter pound of butter going into the pan, I mildly protested at all the calories. “Yes” said Chef, “but it tastes so good”, as he contentedly laps up my sauce for grading with a happy grin. I can’t help but agree, but then, he is a little rotund after all, and that is a state I want to avoid becoming. But truth be told, Chef has had many more years of cooking and eating than me, so hopefully it will be a little while longer before I too, become more round.

Plaice with beurre noisette

Plaice with beurre noisette

Chef started his professional career in the kitchen of the Savoy Hotel and he occasionally regales us with some of the stories from that time. The hotel is currently under refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen later this year, but Chef was there in the 1970s, before even the last refurbishment. Back then, there was a long corridor that ran from the kitchen to the pot wash. All the chefs avoided this protracted walk, preferring instead to funnel the pots that needed washing down to the pot wash by way of rolling them down the corridor. Oh what fun! But rue the day you got in the way of one of those pots as it barrelled towards you. Nowadays, with health and safety regulations, no doubt a time honoured tradition is unlikely to ever see light again.

Westminster Kingsway College:
Web: http://www.westking.ac.uk

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