October 18, 2016
The kitchen was busy today. We were all preparing for the sport auction that would be taking place on Saturday, thank god we didn’t have much prep on the cafe menu to do. So we spent the day curing lemons, making demos for the Latin American menu, making a sweet and sour eggplant special, homemade sauerkraut! Lots of stuff.
First off, we prepped the sauce that would go with our fried red snapper on the Latin American menu. The sauce is called mojo and it consists of brunoised red peppers, onions and tomatoes. It is then accompanied by bay leaves, rice vinegar and tomato puree, it is cooked in the way you would an espagnole sauce; you just cook and cook and cook it until it is all concentrated and yummy. A sofrito base is what we made next, and that would also be put into the mojo sauce towards the end with green olives and capers. The sofrito sauce consists of lots of garlic, onions, red pepper, ngo gai – which is an herb that is a variation on cilantro – and canola oil. This Caribbean base is used in many dishes to make them flavorful, almost like what we in America would use for soups – bouillon. I also learned that this dish has numerous influences from countries all around the globe like Italian and African.
The sweet and sour eggplant special, to be honest, did not sound very good to begin with because I am not a huge fan of eggplant because of the texture. But mostly anything fried is better especially when paired with sweet and sour sauce. We cut the eggplant into rounds and salted them on a sheet tray to let them start releasing their juices. We then patted them dry with paper towels and dredged them in cornstarch for frying. They took about 2 minutes tops in the fryer, and while those were frying we got a saute pan ready with oil. We then added sliced onion, tomato wedges and sliced pineapple and let those caramelized a little. The addition of sweet and sour sauce deglazed the pan and started concentrating the flavors, this was when we added the egg plant and with a gentle touch coated them in the sauce. We then turned the heat off and added 1 inch slices of green onion and garnished with yellow chive.
We then started on the next demo recipe which was Red Snapper with tostones (fried plantains) and the mojo sauce we made earlier. The plantains were peeled and soaked in milk and water with a touch of salt. This would help all of the impurities to come out and ultimately make the plantains better when fried. We double fried them for the dish, the second time we went to fry them we smashed them into chips with the bottoms of coconut milk cans, which seemed to work out just fine. We sprinkled salt on them after they came out of the fryer and set aside. The red snapper was washed, scaled, and then breaded with rice flour; this would ultimately result in a really crispy exterior with a creamy flesh interior. It took a good eight minutes to fry the fish after it had been skewered. The plating went superb because we made it so the fish stood up with it’s gills pulled open. We sauteed some onions up in a pan and added garlic and the mojo sauce to it. We plated the plantains and the sauce, set the snapper on a bed of cabbage and garnished with green onion. Let me tell you, I have never had such good fish in my entire life. I could eat that whole platter–