This was our first Practical class in Superior Cuisine at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school. First, we watched a 2.5 hour demonstration (“demo”) followed by a 2.5 hour practical session held in a smaller room with 10 stoves. I was rather nervous beforehand; I wanted to make sure I got a good position at the communal work station, which would be close to the dish washing station. Otherwise, you have to traipse across the room to frequently get your pots and pans washed by the plongeurs. Yay, I was able to get a good spot!
The dish that we prepared today was John Dory fillets with red spices, wild rice with tropical fruit and red kidney bean “French fries” (Effeuillée de Saint-Pierre aux Épices Rouges, Riz Sauvage aux Fruits Exotiques, Frites de Haricots Rouges). This dish doesn’t sound ‘French’ I hear you say? Well, we’re now getting into fusion cooking in the Superior class, working with influences from other types of cuisines. (I have a feeling I may have seen the last of heavy French creams and buttery recipes? Maybe not)!
For this recipe, we had to first cook Wild Rice, which we were told was not a member of the rice family, but is actually a grain. This was then blended with some diced papaya and mango fruit. Then we were each given a John Dory fish to fillet (called Saint-Pierre in French). Thank goodness the fish had already been gutted, but we had to each completely fillet the fish ourselves. This was not an easy task since this fish is rather big (1.5 kilos or 3.3 pounds) and has a very tough exterior and big back bone. No dramas here- I got this task done alright.
John Dory Fish (Saint-Pierre)
We then had to make a sauce for the fish, flavoured from the fish bones, onion, garlic, diced papaya and mango, white wine, lime juice and Tandoori spices. I like tropical fruit, so this sauce was a nice variation from the usual buttery French sauces often used in fish recipes. The sauce was reduced, then finished off with some diced cilantro and a little butter to thicken.
For an added touch, we made some red kidney bean ‘French fries.’ This consisted of puréed kidney beans rolled into a ball shape, then breaded and deep-fried. These were then placed on the plate as a sort of decoration. Frankly, I thought these ‘French fries’ were a bit strange. Instead, it would be better to use puréed potatoes in place of the kidney beans- why mess with ‘French fries’ by changing the consistency to red kidney beans?
All in all, the dish had a interesting fruity taste, which contrasted nicely with the wild rice (riz sauvage). And thanks to one of my classmates who helped me at the last minute to get my food plated up in time!
During the class demonstration, the chef also made a dish called Smoked Surf and Turf Duo, which consisted of smoked eel, salmon, vainaigrette dressing, a sauce and Beetroot Mousse which was sprayed from a siphon ‘whipped cream’ dispenser. The topping almost looks like cherries (which I love) but is actually sliced beets.
Please join me for the next blog of my Cordon Bleu experience: Sea Bass Coulibiac with Tomatoes Stuffed with Broccio Cheese.
- 1 John Dory fish
- 2 tbsp Tandoori spice
- 1 tsp satay sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 cups water
- ½ mango, finely diced (keep trimmings)
- ½ papaya, finely diced (keep trimmings)
- 500 g spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp butter
- Olive Oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp Tandoori spice blend *
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ¼ cup white wine
- Coriander (cilantro) stems
- 1 strip lime peel
- Papaya and mango trimmings
- Juice of 1 lime
- Coriander, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 250 g red kidney beans, canned or dried
- 1 egg
- Fresh breadcrumbs
- If you purchase the John Dory whole, clean and fillet the fish and soak the bones in water to remove any impurities. Alternatively, you can buy the fish already cleaned and filleted. Slice the John Dory fillets into pieces about 3-4 inches long. In a small bowl, combine the tandoori spice mixture, satay sauce and olive oil. Roll the fish pieces in the mixture and let marinate while you prepare the remaining recipe.
- To prepare the wild rice, bring 2 cups water to a boil, add the 1 cup rice, cover and let simmer on low until the rice is cooked (check directions on package for cooking times).
- To prepare the sauce, sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Strain the fish bones and add to the pan, along with the lime peel and trimmings from the papaya and mango. Add the remaining ingredients: tandoori spice, turmeric, white wine and coriander stems; add enough water to cover the ingredients and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the ingredients and let simmer for another 10 minutes until the mixture reduces in volume. Add the butter and whisk until the sauce thickens a little and season with the lime juice and salt, if required. Add the finely chopped coriander.
- To finish off the wild rice, add a small amount of butter to the rice along with the diced papaya and mango. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine all ingredients. If the rice is dry, moisten with a little bit of the sauce.
- Drain the liquid from the canned kidney beans, add 1 egg yolk and a splash of cream and ‘mash’ the beans to a pulp using a food processor. Spread the mixture into a shallow bowl or pan and place in freezer for one hour to chill the mixture. (Note: if using dried beans, cook for then for several hours in a pan of water until softened).
- When the mixture has been chilled but not frozen, form into small balls. Dust each ball first with white flour, then dip into a pan containing egg wash, then roll evenly with fresh breadcrumbs. Deep fry the balls in vegetable oil or in a deep fryer at 180 C until golden brown.
- Place the 500 g spinach in a large saucepan containing 1 tbsp melted butter. Over medium heat, stir the spinach until the leaves soften and release moisture.
- To plate, make sure all ingredients have been re-warmed. Place a circular ring mold on a plate, press some spinach onto the bottom of the mold, followed by some wild rice. Release the mold, then place one fish fillet on top of the rice with several of the round kidney bean balls. Add several pieces of diced mango fruit and spoon some of the sauce along the sides of the rice/fish mixture.
- * Tandoori spice mix includes ginger, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and other spices. You can buy this mixture in specialty stores or make your own- find the recipe at the following link http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/tandoori-rub-240755