Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Black Tip Shark Steak au Poivre with Baked Stuffed Potato










     A Classic Shark Recipe That Unfortunately Is No Longer Sustainable!
     Today's Black Tip Shark Steak au Poivre is an old Florida style nouvelle cuisine recipe from back in the 1980's, when classic French veal and steak sauces were applied to seafood.  I have cooked this same entrée in Florida yacht clubs, French cafés and fine dining seafood restaurants.  Florida customers tend to be concerned about the accuracy of a recipe and they prefer simple classic entrée presentations with a minimum of garnishes.  Basically, if it is not part of the original recipe, then it does not belong on the plate!  Modest classic entrée presentations also reduce food costs, so the entrée portion size can be larger and this improves the perceived dining value.
     When I first apprenticed in restaurants with Italian, Swiss and French chefs, a Steak au Poive was made only with a sautéed coarse ground peppercorn crusted steak and a red wine-glace viande reduction.  This is the classic Steak au Poivre recipe.  In the early 1980's, many chefs in the Northeast started making the sauce with demi glace, mustard, cognac and cream.  They also claimed that this creamy version was the original Steak au Poivre recipe, but it really was not.  The creamy sauce version really missed the mark, because the original vin rouge glacé style Steak au Poivre was designed to be a bold tasting entrée that was meant to appeal to men.  
     Black Tip Shark is a medium size reef shark.  Black Tip Shark meat is clean, white colored and savory tasting.  The tight meat grain texture of a Black Tip Shark Steak is like Swordfish, Wahoo or Marlin.  Tight grain fish meat is very forgiving, as far as cooking goes.  Tight grain shark meat retains plenty of moisture and it takes some severe overcooking to dry the meat out.
     Black Tip Sharks are fairly docile as far as reef sharks go, however they are aggressive feeders of wounded prey.  These sharks also become very aggressive in springtime, when they travel into bay waters to lay their egg sacks.  Springtime is the best time of year to catch young adult Black Tip Sharks.  Young adult sharks of any species have the best tasting meat.  Once any large shark reaches a mature age, the meat becomes very susceptible to ammonia contamination that comes from overexertion while being caught.  A large shark's urine can "back up" into the blood stream and leave an undesirable strong ammonia flavor.  The same can also be said about young adult sharks that are smaller in size, if a young adult shark is not gutted quickly after it is killed.
     When shopping for a shark steak, ask to smell the steak before making the purchase.  If the shark steak is odorless and clean smelling, then it was properly prepared and very fresh.  There are usually some red blood color meat streaks in shark steak and this is normal.  The red meat in a shark steak will cook to a brown color and it actually has a nice beef steak kind of flavor.  So, do not trim off the flavorful streaks of red meat that are part of a shark steak!
     On a serious note, shark sustainability is now an issue, because shark populations of every kind have drastically declined in recent years.  Currently it is best to avoid purchasing Black Tip Shark or any kind of shark at this time, because this species is now endangered.
     Fortunately, there are several alternative billfish and tropical fish species that have firm textured meat that can be cut into steaks.  Since seafood sustainability is a critical issue, it is best to check the sustainability status before making any seafood purchase.  Follow this link to a reliable seafood sustainability information resource:  Seafood Watch   

     Glace Viandé:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Glacé Viande

     Baked Stuffed Potato:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     The combination of oil and aluminum foil for initially baking the potato will keep the skin moist and it will remain natural color.  There is nothing worse than eating a twice baked potato out of an overcooked, dried out potato skin shell, which is like eating a twice baked potato stuffing out of a worn out old leather shoe. 
     Step 1:  Wash 1 whole large 10 to 12 ounce russet potato under cold running water.
     Lightly brush the potato with vegetable oil.
     Wrap the potato with aluminum foil.
     Bake the potato in a 350ºF oven till it is tender.  (45 minutes to 1 hour)
     *When you can gently squeeze the potato and it is no longer hard, then it is ready.
     Step 2:  Let the baked potato cool to room temperature.
     Remove the foil.
     Place the potato on a cutting board.
     Cut the ends off of the potato, so the potato can stand evenly.
     Cut the potato in half through the middle and not lengthwise.
     Step 3:  Use a spoon or Parisian Scoop to carve out the baked potato flesh and to form a hollow pocket for stuffing.  Leave about a 1/4" to 3/8" thick border wall of potato shell attached to the skin.
     Set the 2 hollowed potato halves on a roasting pan that is brushed with oil.
     Step 4:  Place the potato flesh that was scooped out of the potato halves into a mixing bowl.  (About 1 cup.)
     Add 1 teaspoon of softened unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Thoroughly mash the mixture, till it becomes very smooth.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin sliced chives.
     Fold the chives into the potato stuffing mixture.
     Step 6:  Load the potato stuffing into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Pipe the potato stuffing into the 2 hollow baked potato shells on the roasting pan.  Try to make spiral peaks.
     Step 7:  Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of melted unsalted butter over each stuffed potato.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika on each stuffed potato.
     Step 8:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till a few golden brown highlights appear on the stuffing.
     Keep the baked stuffed potatoes warm on a stove top.
     *The shark steak can be cooked while the twice baked potato is in the oven!

     Black Tip Shark Steak au Poivre:
     Shark of every kind currently has sustainability issues.  Check the current sustainability status before purchasing shark or any kind of fish.  As an alternative, this recipe can be made with an alternative fish species that has firm textured meat.  Currently, U.S. Atlantic Swordfish or Hawaiian Moonfish are good choices.   
     Step 1:  Select an 8 to 10 ounce Black Tip Shark Steak (or an alternative firm textured sustainable fish.)
     Remove the skin.
     Step 2:  Lightly season the shark steak with sea salt.
     Press a generous amount of coarse crushed black peppercorns into the surface of the shark steak.  (About 2 tablespoons.)
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Place the shark steak in the hot pan.
     Sear and sauté the shark steak on both sides till brown highlights appear on the meat.  (Do not flip the shark steak excessively or the coarse ground peppercorns will fall off!)
     Step 4:  Drain the excess oil and butter out of the pan.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/3 cup of cognac or brandy.
     Briefly flambé.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of dry red wine.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin glace viande.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the shark steak is fully cooked.  (About 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak.)
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     *The handle of the pan will be hot during the rest of the recipe, so use caution!
     Use a spatula to set the shark steak on a serving plate.
     Keep the plate warm on a stove top.
     Step 8:  Set the sauté pan of sauce on a burner that is set to medium heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the heat. .
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted Plugra Butter to the sauce while stirring with a whisk.  (Monte au beurre!  If no European Plugra Butter is available, then regular unsalted butter will do.)
     Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a ceramic cup.
     Step 10:  Spoon a generous amount of the vin rouge glacé sauce over the shark steak and onto the plate.
     Serve with the stuffed baked potato and a vegetable of your choice.
     *The vegetable in the photos is sautéed yellow squash that is flavored with dill weed.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig and thin demi-lune lemon slices.

     The flavor of this Black Tip Shark Steak au Poivre is superb!  The simple Stuffed Baked Potato is straight out of the good old days of Florida fine dining seafood restaurants.  If shark sustainability continues to be an issue, keep in mind that any firm textured fish can be prepared this way.

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