Posts Tagged ‘sea bass’

I was not as excited for this episode of Good Eats as I have been for some of the others. While I recognize that poaching is a valuable cooking method to have in one’s toolbox, I just didn’t find the recipes in this episode to be super inventive overall. Still, I definitely did learn a lot from making the recipes in this episode, which is really what it is all about.

Poached Eggs

First up in the 38th episode of Good Eats was Alton’s technique for poaching eggs. There is no printable recipe for Alton’s poached eggs, but there is a video clip here. I have made poached eggs many times and some have turned out more successfully than others. I don’t really have a go-to formula, so I was hopeful that this method might become “The One.”

To poach eggs Alton’s way, fill a non-stick skillet with an inch of water, add a teaspoon of Kosher salt and about a teaspoon of vinegar, and bring to a simmer. The vinegar is added because the acid speeds the setting of the whites, which helps to prevent feathering.

All you need for poached eggs:  Kosher salt, eggs, vinegar. Oh, and some water.

All you need for poached eggs: Kosher salt, eggs, vinegar. Oh, and some water.

Water, vinegar, and Kosher salt being brought to a simmer.

Water, vinegar, and Kosher salt being brought to a simmer.

Simmering water, ready for eggs.

Simmering water, ready for eggs.

Crack each egg into a ramekin.

Eggs cracked into individual ramekins.

Eggs cracked into individual ramekins.

Starting at 12 o’clock in the pan, slide one egg gently into the water. Continue around the pan, adding eggs at even intervals. Using the clock method helps you to remove the eggs in the order you put them in, so they will all cook evenly.

Eggs at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock.

Eggs at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock.

Once your eggs are all in the water, put the lid on the pan, turn off the heat, and let the eggs poach for seven minutes.

Lid on the pan, heat off, and left to poach for seven minutes.

Lid on the pan, heat off, and left to poach for seven minutes.

To save poached eggs for later (I didn’t know you could do this), put the eggs in ice water immediately after cooking and refrigerate them for up to eight hours; when ready to eat, reheat in simmering water for one minute. Alton served his eggs over a salad, which is what I planned to do with mine anyway. I love how the eggs become part of the dressing!

Poached eggs over a lunch salad.

Poached eggs over a lunch salad.

Alton's poached eggs.

Alton’s poached eggs.

My eggs were pretty good, but I think I could have pulled them out just a little bit earlier and they would have been perfect. I will use this method the next time I make poached eggs, but I’ll pull them out a little earlier.

Ge Court Bouillon

Next in this episode was a recipe for court bouillon, which is a flavored poaching liquid composed of an acidic liquid, aromatic vegetables, and herbs. Poaching, FYI, is when you cook food in liquid that is just below a simmer. When poaching, you want to keep the liquid around the final temperature that you want your cooked product to be. Poaching is ideal for high protein foods that tend to dry out when they are cooked, such as fish and chicken, but it is also good for pears and stone fruit. My mom went through a phase of making poached pears years ago; it seemed like she tried a hundred recipes, but in reality it was probably only three or four. Alton recommends poaching fruit in ginger ale, so I have added that to my list of things to try. Poached fruit over ice cream = great summer dessert.

Ingredients for court bouillon:  water, white wine, lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and bay leaves.

Ingredients for court bouillon: water, white wine, lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and bay leaves.

To make Alton’s court bouillon, in a saucepan combine 1 1/2 C water, 1/2 C white wine, the juice of a lemon, a chopped onion, half a rib of chopped celery, a finely chopped garlic clove, 1 t black peppercorns, 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 1 bay leaf.

All of the ingredients in a pan.

All of the ingredients in a pan.

Bring the mixture to a boil, decrease the heat, and simmer for eight minutes before poaching.

Court bouillon, brought to a boil before use.

Court bouillon, brought to a boil before use.

You can re-use the court bouillon, as long as you bring it to a boil before each use, and it also freezes well. If you plan to use it more than once, strain the liquid after the first use. I used my court bouillon as Alton did in the episode, which was for the following recipe.

The Frenchman’s Bass

As I said above, I used my court bouillon to prepare the next recipe in this episode, which was for poached sea bass. I brought my court bouillon to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and slid in two sea bass fillets, partially submerging them.

Beautiful sea bass fillets added to the simmering court bouillon.

Beautiful sea bass fillets added to the simmering court bouillon.

I put the lid on the pan and allowed the fish to poach until it was done. My fish took about 10 minutes to cook, but it was frozen when we got it (I thawed it under cold water prior to cooking).

Lid on the pan, and fish left to poach.

Lid on the pan, and fish left to poach.

Fish after about 7 minutes of poaching. I let it cook a little longer.

Fish after about 7 minutes of poaching. I let it cook a little longer.

My finished poached sea bass.

My finished poached sea bass.

We ate the fish for lunch, served simply with lemon wedges on top. It was horrible – so horrible that it was really inedible. There was a strong bitterness to the fish that was quite perplexing. Such a waste and such a bummer. I couldn’t stop wondering why my fish had turned out with such poor flavor. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to take a quick sip of the chardonnay I used in my court bouillon. Bingo. The chardonnay was horrible, with an intense bitter finish. I feel quite stupid for failing to taste the wine prior to using it in my recipe, but seeing as I was making my court bouillon in the morning, I didn’t feel up to some chardonnay. The saddest part is that I did smell the wine in the bottle before I poured it, and I had a slight inclination that it might be “off,” but I failed to listen to my gut. Lessons learned:  ALWAYS take a swig (or two), and I need to trust my wine “Spidey sense” a bit more. Needless to say, I really can’t fairly evaluate this recipe, as the recipe was not the cause of my ruined fish. Yes, I am quite embarrassed by this one.

Catfish au Lait

Moving on to better things, the final recipe in this episode was for catfish poached in evaporated milk.

Ingredients for catfish au lait:  evaporated milk, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, Kosher salt, onion, and catfish fillets.

Ingredients for catfish au lait: evaporated milk, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, Kosher salt, onion, and catfish fillets.

For this recipe, in a skillet, combine 12 oz evaporated milk, 1 t Old Bay Seasoning, 1 t ground black pepper, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and half an onion, thinly sliced.

Evaporated milk in a skillet.

Evaporated milk in a skillet.

Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, and Kosher salt added to milk.

Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, and Kosher salt added to milk.

Onions added to pan.

Onions added to pan.

Alton used an electric skillet for this, but I do not have an electric skillet. Bring this mixture to a boil.

Mixture after being brought to a boil.

Mixture after being brought to a boil.

Once boiling, gently slide your catfish fillets (I used three) into the liquid, almost fully submerging them.

Catfish fillets added to milk mixture.

Catfish fillets added to milk mixture.

Spoon some of the liquid over the top of the fillets, decrease the heat to low, and cover.

Lid on the pan, heat turned to low, and left to poach.

Lid on the pan, heat turned to low, and left to poach.

Let the fish poach to desired doneness, which took about eight minutes for my fish.

Catfish after poaching for ~eight minutes.

Catfish after poaching for ~eight minutes.

We ate this fish for dinner, eating it just as it was, with some of the onions on top.

Catfish served with poached onions on top.

Catfish served with poached onions on top.

I thought this was really good. The fish was very moist, with a slight sweetness from the milk and a hint of Old Bay. The onions, too, were really delicious, and were great to eat with the fish. I will probably make this again. It was a fast, easy, inexpensive way to prepare fish. Ted liked this too, but said he would opt for a different fish preparation, such as fish tacos, if given a choice.