Virtual Kitchen. Theory – Chapter 7 Fish and Shellfish. Fish as a commodity.
Theory – Chapter 7
Fish and Shellfish
Fish as a commodityFish has become a major feature on the majority of menus across the world, as professional chefs find new and appealing ways for it to be cooked and presented. Fish is a healthy and flavoursome option and is a very versatile commodity.Fish usually appears on a menu as part of the main course selection.However, it can also be used in hors d'oeuvre, canapes, starters, garnishes for pasta, rice and salads.
Ethical fishingThe consumption of fish has steadily increased over the past few years. This is generally due to increased customer awareness of the benefits of eating this healthy product.There has now been a move to fish only what is required. This is to prevent over fishing and to protect species such as Australian Sea Bass. Some restaurants will choose to purchase only fish that has been line caught as opposed to fish that has been caught by dredging. Dredging as a method of fishing is much more damaging to the environment and contributes greatly to the over fishing of the oceans.
Fish fall into two main categories: Bony and Cartilaginous (contains no bones). Examples of Cartilaginous fish are shark and rays.
Bony fish can be divided into the following three categories:
Round white – Coral trout, Barramundi, Blue Eye Trevalla, West Australian Dhufish.
Flat white – Sole, Turbot (European), Flounder, Halibut (European).
Oily: Atlantic Salmon, Ocean Trout, Mackerel, Pilchard, Tuna, Swordfish, Mahi-Mahi.
Fresh water: Silver Perch, Murray Cod, Garfish, European Carp.
Miscellaneous: Crocodile, Beche De Mer (sea cucumber).
Smell: There should be a delicate, pleasant odour reminiscent of the sea.Appearance: Shiny, slippery, moist, glistening skin with the presence of sea slime.Scales: Scales should be strong, shiny in appearance and still firmly attached.Skin: The skin should be taut, colourful, glistening and adhered to fish.Eyes: Look for clear, bright, transparent and protruding eyes.Gills: Fish gills are moist, shiny and deep red (flushed with aerated blood).Flesh: Quality fish has firm, translucent white or pink flesh with a gleaming brightness.
Fish is an excellent source of easily digestible protein.White fish is very low in fat content and the fat itself is unsaturated.Oily fish contains a higher fat content and is not as easily digested as white fish, but they do contain higher concentrations of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Fish often has a delicately flavoured flesh which requires gentle handling
during preparation.Preparing a fillet of White Round Fish
Remove sharp spikes in the dorsal fins (for reef fish in particular) before
undertaking any further preparation.Cut through the stomach by making a shallow incision along the underside and remove the guts (viscera). Cut off the gills.Rinse the cavity under cold running water to remove any remaining guts or blood.De-scale the skin and trim any fins.Using a filleting knife, cut into the fish at the head just behind the gills until the backbone is reached. Cut the fish down the length of the back, along the top side of the backbone.Remove the fillet then turn the fish over and remove the second fillet using the same method. Trim both fillets to the required shape and size.
Boiling: Most commonly used for whole shellfish. Whole firm fleshed
fish may beplaced into a cold cooking liquid such as water, milk, or
a Court Bouillon.
Note: It is unusual for fish to be boiled for the entire length of cooking.
Once boiling point has been reached the temperature is usually reduced
to a simmer. Poaching: A shallow or deep liquid can be used. With shallow poaching, the cooking liquid is usually retained to make a sauce. With deep poaching, the poaching liquid often has aromatics added to enhance the flavour of the poached fish.
Steaming: Steam on a perforated tray in a combination oven or in stove-top bamboo or aluminium steamer. Seafood can also besteamed byplacing fish onto a buttered tray, after being seasoned lightly and covered with buttered baking parchment. Using En-Papillotte as a cooking technique will also cook the fish by the development of steam.
Stewing: This process is used to produce high intense flavour product such as Bouillabaisse, but it is something of a loose term when used in reference to seafood dishes as the cooking time is relatively short. For fish stews, choose firm-fleshed fish that will keep its shape such as Blue Salmon or Mullet.
Grilling: Pass the fish through seasoned flour and brush with oil or
butter prior to cooking. Whole small fish and most cuts and types of
fish are suitable for grilling, but oily fish will give the most favourable
results.Baking: Whole, filleted or portioned fish can be baked in an oven. Care
must be taken to ensure that the direct heat does not overcook or burn the fish. Wrapping seafood in banana leaf, paperbark or by using en-papillotte as a technique will reduce the chances of fish becoming dry when baking. Roasting: When roasting, the fish is usually portioned and the skin is left on. It is lightly seared on both sides in a hot pan with oil and then roasted in the oven for a few minutes.Shallow Frying: Whole small fish in a variety of cuts and fillets are suitable for shallow frying.Deep Frying: Whole, small, round and flat fish are good for deep frying. Fillets and Goujons are suitable for deep frying. The fish must be coated before frying.
Mussels have adistinctive oval blue and black shell, with an orange,
salty fish inside. Scrub them under cold running water to remove
all grit and scrape off any barnacles and beards. New Zealand Green
lip mussels are larger than black mussels and have a green shell.
The meat is the same in shape and colour but tends to be firmer
in texture.Scallops arerounded, fan-shaped shells, with an edible round whitish muscle and orange roe. Any dirt inside the shells needs to be purged on opening.Oysters come in different shapes and sizes. The shells must be scrubbed well before opening and only opened using an oyster knife.Clams/Pipiescan be either hard shell or soft shell (razor shell clams). All clams must be scrubbed and purged if necessary.