Class 21 – Tilapia aux almandes

6 02 2009

It’s already been established that my trout escapade didn’t go well.  Still, I wanted to try the recipe, so I selected another fish.  Tilapia.  Although the fish are not the least bit alike, tilapia fillets were available.  There are few fish available whole here.  Fewer yet that are pan size, unless you happen to fish for yourself.  Tilapia is one of my favorites.  It’s mild.  Doesn’t smell or taste fishy (when properly cared for)…

Following the recipe from LCB, I seasoned the fish, dredged them in flour and cooked them in hot olive oil and butter.  Actually, all the dishes in this meal were cooked in the same pan.  The rice was fried with garlic, green onions and scrambled egg, then seasoned with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.  It was scooped off into a bowl, the pan rinsed, and then we sauteed the asparagus.  The asparagus was cut on an angle, at one inch intervals, with the tips set aside.  Using only olive oil, the asparagus stem pieces were flipped and tossed with a bit of salt, until almost crisp tender.  Then, the tips were added, and the cooking continued until the asparagus had a great crunch, but was juicy inside.  The asparagus was poured off to a shallow dish while the fish cooked.


We paired this with a Beaulieu Vineyards Riesling.  I don’t know where I saw to pair either tilapia, or the trout almondine with a riesling, but it did go well.  We had a great deal of fun tasting the wine with the different dishes to see how the taste changed.  Tasted behind the almonds, the riesling tasted a bit acid, a tad sweet and had a bright flavor.  Tasted behind the rice, the wine was much more acidic which wasn’t bad, but not at all as exciting as behind the almonds.  Alone, the riesling is a bit sweet, a bit dry, a bit acidic, a bit fruity.   A complete and total change in flavor was discovered when we tasted the riesling behind the asparagus.  It became velvety smooth and rich with almost buttery sweetness and fruit.  It was such an incredible difference!  The BV Riesling was find, but I still prefer the Chateau Ste. Michelle, WA Riesling.

I think that catches me up to the point where I’m totally backwards.  Oxymoronic?  More than likely.
Until the next time….


Class 21-Basa-swai en papillotte

6 02 2009

Actually, this week’s dish was Bar à la Normande, or Sea Bass Normandy which is sea bass with mushrooms and cream.  However, we were chatting about our “en papillotte” recipe for next week, and discussing which fish would substitute well for what we couldn’t locate locally.  We’re so wide-spread that item availability is a laughable subject.  I’m still hunting the elusive veal bones.  Back to the story at hand, I completely neglected to look at the schedule and double check.  I happily did up a fish I was unfamiliar with (this class is encouraging us to try new varieties and do some cutting) in a foil pouch according to a recipe from LCB Complete.  Then I started reading other members posts about their dishes…but they all cooked something different than I did…  Aw…PIFFLE!  I cooked the wrong dish!!  So…here’s a sneak peek at next week’s “en papillotte” dish.  Next week I’ll be doing the rewind.  I’ll get this schedule thing one of these days! LOL!!

Basa-swai…  It may be sold as basa, swai, or perhaps even tra.  Basa has been raised in cages in the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam for decades, thereby proving its value as a sustainable fish.  A white, tender, mild-flavored fish, it is similar to catfish and often referred to as Vietnamese Catfish, yet it’s not of the same species as catfish.


The recipe I followed called for a quantity of fresh thinly sliced fennel to be sauteed in butter for 25 minutes.  While that was going on, we needed to cut a teardrop shaped from folded parchment or foil.  I chose foil this time.


The recipe called for the raw sea bass to be placed on top of a few fresh basil leaves, then topped with the fennel.  I did it in reverse.  I wanted to see the fresh basil sprig on top of the fish.  As I gathered the basil, I wondered how many of my classmates were picking fresh basil…in their living room?


Next, we fold up the edges to create a tightly sealed foil (or parchment) pouch.  This is quite similar to what I do when we’re camping.  I fill foil pouches with vegetables, seasonings, and a protein –  usually chicken or fish – and grill them.  If you do apply this technique over a barbecue grill or fire, double up the foil and make sure it’s the heavy duty stuff.


I found the cooking time was off a little for me.  Maybe it was because I folded the fillets in half.  It took easily twice as long as the recipe called for.  No big deal…we just sealed it back up and popped it back into the oven.


The aroma that came out of this little packet when it was opened was fabulous!  Oh my gosh.  I can’t wait to play with this some more!  I can think of all kinds of applications to do this with!  We had green and white plates.  I decided that Jasmine rice would be a lovely, additionally aromatic contrast with the fennel and basil.  Echoes of Thai…


We really enjoyed this dish.  The liquid in the cooking pouch was wonderful with the rice.  The fennel was really nice too.  We’d never used it on it’s own as a veggie…what a lovely touch!  The jasmine rice added it’s own notes and complemented the aromas of the fish and aromatic seasonings.  As I’ve already said, I’m interested in seeing what else I can do “en papillotte!”  Until the next time…which I believe will be Tilapia aux Almandes.  After last week’s experience, I’m subbing tilapia for the trout, and that’s tonight’s dinner.  Happy whisking!