Thursday, April 7, 2016

Salad of Poached Ocean Perch and Boston Lettuce with Masago Vinaigrette

     An Appealing Café Style Salad!
     There are two methods of poaching.  One method is to add an item to cold poaching liquid and then bring the liquid to a boil.  This creates an exchange of flavor.  The poaching liquid is usually served along with the poached food item using this method or a sauce is made with the poaching liquid.
     The second method is to place an item in hot poaching liquid.  With this method, only the item being poached gains flavor and there is minimal flavor exchange that adds flavor to the poaching liquid.
     French style poaching liquid is called Court Bouillon.  Court Bouillon is a simple broth that is simmered for a short time, so the aromatic ingredients impart flavor.  Court Bouillon is only meant to lightly accent whatever is poached, so only light savory ingredients are added.
     The list of ingredients required to make Court Bouillon rarely changes, because the Court Bouillon can be used to make specific classic recipes after the poaching is done.  Court Bouillon ingredients include:
     • Water
     • Aromatic Mirepoix Vegetables or just onion
     • Bouquet Garni (leek, thyme, celery stalk, parsley stems and bay leaf) or just bay leaf    
     • Whole Black Peppercorns
     • Salt
     • Garlic is an option
     • Lemon is usually added for light meats or seafood
     • White Wine is optional
     Many times the Court Bouillon is simply discarded after poaching one item that causes a flavor change.  For example, a Court Bouillon is usually discarded after poaching Sweetbreads.
     Sometimes a Court Bouillon is used to poach multiple orders of whitefish.  The Court Bouillon is then rich enough to turn the broth into a sauce.
     Adding any extra herbs, spices or strong tasting vegetables will render the Court Bouillon useless for traditional classic recipe applications.  For example, by adding fennel seed, a court bouillon is useless for most classic applications.  When in a French kitchen, every item is prepared with specific ingredients for a reason.  As a cook, trying to be creative by adding something to a traditional recipe out of personal taste will result in a French chef placing the cook back on potato peeling duty!
     Sometimes a Fumet (clear whitefish stock) is used in place of water in a Court Bouillon when poaching fish or seafood.  Seafood that is poached in this type of Court Bouillon is usually served in a bowl with the strained Court Bouillon.
     After poaching, if the recipe does not call for the Court Bouillon to be retained, the Court Bouillon can optionally be saved to make a light sauce or soup at a later time.  When poaching six fish filets in a Court Bouillon, a small amount of nice tasting broth is created and it is a shame to let it go to waste.

     This recipe was first written a few years ago.  At that time both Ocean Perch (Red) and Masago (Capelin Roe) were listed as sustainable.  The sustainability status of these two seafood items has changed and recommendations can be found at this link:  Seafood Watch  

     Court Bouillon:
     This recipe yields enough Court Bouillon to poach 1 or 2 small fish filets.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 3 to 4 cups of water.  (Add enough water to cover the fish filet with about 2" of liquid.)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 1/4 cup of sliced onion.
     Add 1 whole garlic clove.
     Add 8 to 10 whole black peppercorns.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Bring the court bouillon to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the court bouillon for 20 to 30 minutes.
     Add water is necessary to maintain the original level of liquid.
     *The vinaigrette, and the salad set up plate can be prepared while the court bouillon simmers!  Be sure to cook, cill and peel 1 hard boiled egg, so it can be used as a garnish.

     Masago Vinaigrette:
     This recipe yields 1 large portions.  (Enough for 1 large salad or 2 petite salads.) 
     This is a loose stirred vinaigrette.  A loose emulsion is nice for a seafood salad.
     Capelin Roe is called Masago in Japan.  Masago is used for garnishing sushi.  Masago is a very gentle tasting fish roe.
     Step 1:  Place 3 teaspoons of rice vinegar in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper and sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Masago (capelin roe).
     Step 2:  Slowly add 3 tablespoons of olive oil while stirring.
     Slowly add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil while stirring.
     Step 3:  Set the vinaigrette aside for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Stir the vinaigrette before serving.

     Boston Lettuce Salad Set-Up Plate:
     Mound 2 1/2 to 3 cups of Boston Lettuce Leaves on the center of a plate.
     Evenly space 6 peeled cucumber slices on the plate around the lettuce.
     Place 1 thin plum tomato wedge between the cucumber slices.  The tomato wedges should point outward from center.
     Sprinkle some julienne sliced carrot over the lettuce for color.
     Chill the salad set-up plate in a refrigerator till later in the recipe.
     Ocean Perch Poached en Court Bouillon:
     This recipe yields 1 petite fish filet.
     Step 1:  Raise the temperature of the court bouillon to medium heat.
     Bring the court bouillon to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Place a 5 to 6 ounce Ocean Perch filet in the court bouillon.  (Leave the thin red skin attached to the filet.)
     Poach till the perch is fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 145ºF in the center of the filet.)
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Use a slotted spatula to set the poached fish filet on a platter.
     Pour 1 ounce of the court bouillon liquid over the poached perch to keep it moist.
     Allow the poached ocean perch to cool to almost room temperature

     Salad of Poached Ocean Perch and Boston Lettuce with Masago Vinaigrette:
     Step 1:  Place the Boston Lettuce Salad Set-Up Plate on a countertop.
     Step 2:  Use a slotted spatula to place the Poached Filet of Ocean Perch on top of the mound of lettuce.
     Place a thick slice of hard boiled egg on the perch.
     Step 3:  Stir the Masago Vinaigrette.
     Spoon a generous amount of the Masago Vinaigrette over the egg, perch and salad.
     Poached ocean perch has a very light and delicate flavor.  The capelin caviar is very mild tasting too.  This is a nice light healthy summer salad!

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