Culinary

Introduction

Food has always been a love of mine. When I was young I had this book about Japan and in this book there were many pictures of beautiful Japanese dishes. I have always wanted to not only taste these dishes, but I wanted to know how to create them.

I began cooking my senior year of high school, which was about five years ago.I had finished most of my graduation requirements early so the majority of my classes were electives. I was accidentally put into a Food and Nutrition course. In this course we not only learned about how different parts of a food interacted with the body but we also learned how to cook and experiment with several “healthy” dishes. I really loved the fact that in comparison to writing a paper or painting a picture the cooking process was much shorter.And that I would end up with a tangible item that I could feel, see, and taste.

I find cooking to be an almost therapeutic process. I like that it is both flexible and governed. Cooking, like art has rules and measurements, but it isn’t too rigid that I don’t have some leeway to play around with a recipe if I want to.

This semester in college I once again found myself with a spare elective course. I opted to take a culinary class about “Modern Japanese Cuisine” at Kennesaw State University. The school is currently trying to establish and promote a new Bachelor of Science in Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality program so they opened the classes to people of all majors without any prerequisites ( Woo Hoo!).

My class is instructed by Chef Jack C. Fang. (Who is as an exceptional as a professor as he is a chef). My class is composed of seven non-culinary major food enthusiasts. Every Monday we have our class and we learn how to cook. The texts that we are using as our guideline to this class are :

Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking by Chef Masaharu Morimoto
41FMcNNEmHL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

and “Japanese Food and Cooking: A timeless cuisine: the traditions, techniques, ingredients and recipes” by Yasuko Fukuoka
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COURSE DESCRIPTION:

The description of the course on the syllabus reads:
“This course takes a closer look into Japanese cuisine and how it’s adapted in the Modern world. Students develop comprehensive skills to apply cooking techniques and fusions of ingredients to create modern Japanese dishes. This course demonstrates the richness of Japanese cuisine and characteristics that are part of Japanese food and culture. Traditional versus the influences of Western culture, dining styles and overall food experience will also be explored.”

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

By the end of the semester, every student who performs the necessary preparatory work, attends class, and successfully completes the course assessments will be able to:

1. Describe the traditions and cultural influences on the country’s culinary heritage. (How Japanese food is being accepted and recreate)
2. Integrate flavors, ingredients, seasonings, and cooking techniques of the country’s cuisines to create a variety of dishes relevant to both traditional and current trends.
3. Identify traditional flavors, stocks and mother sauces and further development into the modern approach
4. Explain the development of regional cuisines based on available food supplies and agriculture resources.
5. Discuss the sustainable practices within the region’s food system, from farm to fork and the local and global impact.
6. Identify how the traditional foods, ingredients and cooking techniques have influenced similar cuisines prepared in the United States.
7. Evaluate traditional foods prepared for flavor profiles, quality and authenticity.

I am extremely excited to take this course! I already had to buy a professional chef uniform consisting of black trousers, a toque, black closed shoes, a white button up shirt, and a black apron. Luckily Chef Fang understands that his class is composed entirely of beginners and he has adapted the course to fit our needs. I am excited to share with you all what I learn this semester!

Bon appetit!


Asian risotto with lobster bisque 

2015-02-09 18.25.50

Ingredients:
– ½ yellow onion- score the onions
– 4 tablespoons of olive oil
– 2 teaspoons of dry Italian seasoning (Thyme, Basil)
– 1 piece of garlic
– 1 cup precooked white rice
– ½ cup Sauvignon Blanc white wine
– note: do NOT add salt until the risotto is done cooking
– 1/2 cup of miso soup stock
– 1/8 teaspoon of diced fresh jalapeños
– 1/2 cup of readymade lobster bisque
– 2 tablespoons of butter (cut into four -½ tablespoon blocks)
– 4 tablespoons of minced mushrooms
– 1/8 teaspoon of Italian parsley or cilantro
– Do NOT add in salt
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Note: This risotto does not use cheese; instead it uses a lobster bisque soup to hold the rice together.
Directions:
  1. Score and dice ½ of a yellow onion.
  2. Pour the 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of dry Italian seasoning (Thyme, Basil) in a metal pan on high heat.
  3. Once the pan starts to smoke add the onions to the pan with some smashed garlic, basil and other seasonings.
  4. Add in 1 cup of precooked rice to the seasoning in the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the stove and add about ½ cup of Sauvignon Blanc white wine and stir in.
  6. Once the wine begins to cook down and get soaked into the rice, slowly add in ½ cup of miso soup stock while stirring the risotto mixture. Note: Do not add in too much miso or the risotto will become too salty. Allow the miso to simmer into the rice on medium heat.
  7. Add in the diced jalapeños. And let it simmer for 2 minutes.
  8. Add in 1/2 cup of readymade lobster bisque and fold into the risotto using a rubber spatula. Mix until 30% of the liquid is absorbed. Then lower the heat from medium to low, so the rice won’t burn/
  9. Add in ½ tablespoon of butter at a time and mix in. If your heat is too high your butter will break ( meaning that the butter will separate from your risotto mixture and float to the top creating a darker colored risotto) and that will make your risotto oily.
  10. If you over cook the risotto you can just add in either more stock or more wine to rebalance it. Stir it well.
  11. Add in mushroom and stir.
  12. You many garnish your risotto with 1/8 teaspoon of Italian parsley or cilantro.
  13. When you have left over risotto that you want to reheat, but it is a bit stiff the best thing to do is to put it back in a pan on the heat, add in a little bit of wine, and stir until it is the right consistency again. For a large batch of risotto add in a total of two cups of wine in stages and stir in.


Sesame Crusted Seared Alabacore Tuna Tataki

2015-02-09 19.05.28

Ingredients: seasalt,  butter, raw yellowfin tuna, raw untoasted sesame seeds,  & 3 tablespoons of oil

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Directions:

  1. Take sea salt and liberally cover both the top and bottom of a piece of rawfresh tuna with it. Leave the salt on the tuna for ½ hour to help season the salmon. After 30 minutes wash the salt off, pat dry the tuna, wrap it in saran wrap. You can either leave it to cure at room temperature for 30 minutes or you can freeze it and use it later. The salt coating helps to keep it fresh and to prevent it from having that fishy taste when you defrost it and use it a later.
  2. After you rinse the salt off of the tuna, pat it dry with a paper towel.
  3. Pour the raw untoasted sesame seeds into a pan and completely cover your tuna with the seeds. Press them on to the tuna gently using your hands so the seeds will stick to the surface of it. The reason for using raw untoasted sesame seeds is because if you use toasted sesame seeds, when you cook the salmon you will be cooking the seeds a second time and then they will get burned. To prevent them from getting burned you need to use the raw sesame seeds.Note: Western stores use yellow fin tuna because it is a lean fish and the fat inside itwill not break when you cook it.
  4. After you cover it with the sesame seeds cover it with a little bit of sea salt and press it into the salmon so it will stick.
  5. Add in 3 tablespoons of oil and evenly coat the pan. Turn on the heat at high and wait for the pan to heat up.
  6. Cut your salmon loin in half so it will fit inside your frying pan. If the pan is at the correct temperature the moment that you put your tuna in the pan you should hear a sizzle.
  7. Flip over the tuna when the sesame seeds are golden brown. The meat should be ¼ cooked on one side. At the end our goal is to have a medium rare tuna filet.
  8. Add more oil if the fish has absorbed it all, and turn the tuna onto its side on the pan so it will cook. Proceed to sear each side of the filet in the pan so they are browned a bit. Once all the sides are seared flip the tuna onto its back and sear that side last. After the back is seared take it out and put it to rest on top of a paper towel. This does two things: 1) it allows the oil to drain off of the fish and 2) it allows the fish to rest. If you try to slice the fish once it comes out of the pan the sesame seeds will fall off.
  9. After the tuna has rested for 5 minutes you can plate and garnish it. To cut the loin, pull the knife towards you instead of pushing it forward. Make ¼ in slices. You can add in sliced fresh garlic.
  10. You have a couple of plating options: When the risotto has relaxed it doesn’t hold it’s shape so it doesn’t matter what you with it . You can put it in a straight line, curve it, lay out the risotto and lay the tuna on top of it. You can also add thyme and pea sprouts as garnish.

Pan Roasted Salmon & Udon Noodle Pesto with Salmon Caviar

2015-02-09 19.40.27

Ingredients: seasalt, 4 tablespoons of butter, a fresh piece of skinless salmon filet, 1 package of Japanese Udon Noodles, premade pesto sauce,Italian seasoning, teriyaki sauce

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Directions:

  1. Take your fresh or thawed piece of salmon and pat it dry. Get out a frying pan and put in the butter. Set the stove to high and sear all the sides of the salmon filet. Make sure to sear one of the large sides of the salmon more heavily than the rest of the edges.
  2. Flip the salmon over on the side that is opposite of the most seared side ( the side that is seared less. Cover the pan and turn off the heat. The reason for flipping the fish is because the side that is seared the least will then cook and you will have an evenly cooked piece of salmon. In this span of four minutes do not uncover the pan to check on the fish. The purpose of covering it is so that the steam in the pan will circulate and cook the rest of the fish. This way you will get a nice, tender, and moist fish.
  3. While the fish is cooking in the steam it is time to prepare the noodles. Bring water and salt to the pasta water to help flavor it. Bring the water to a boil in a pot on high heat and toss the udon noodles in. The noodles will cook vey quickly- in about 3 minutes. Do not over cook the noodles. Once 3 minutes have passed turn off the heat and drain the water immediately.
  4. The next step is to prepare the pesto sauce. There is one golden rule of pesto: DO NOT put it on heat because it will melt and turn into a greasy mess. Just take it out of the jar and stir it around to make sure that the oils in it are evenly distributed.
  5. Mix the drained slightly cooled udon noodles with the pesto sauce. Toss in a bit of Italian seasoning and sea salt to taste. Stir it into the pasta, and put it to the side for now.
  6. At this point you can go back to the salmon and uncover it. At this point the steam from the pan should have cooked it. Check and make sure that it is cooked, but still soft to the touch. You can add in some teriyaki sauce and the salmon just coat the salmon with it in the pan and make sure that the sauce gets heated up.
  7. To plate first place the pasta in the plate and spin it with a fork. Place the salmon on top of the pasta in the center for classic plating. You may add a dark colored sprout as a garnish to create a dark contrast. You may also add salmon caviar on top as well.

How to Take Care of Salmon

three salmon pieces on white background

Some tips to keep in mind when preparing to cook a piece of salmon that I learned from my instructor in culinary class:

  1. Apply salt to the surface of the salmon on both sides and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Then washed off the salt and towel dry the salmon before wrapping it twice and out it in the freezer until you wish to use it again.
  2. If you are cutting up your own salmon, make sure that the scales are completely removed and the blood has been drained. Salt the surface after all the bone is removed.
  3. If you got a fillet of salmon from the store, you may ask them to remove the scales and keep the skin on. If the salmon is already a fillet, but the scales are still on… then cancel the order and buy it elsewhere. The scales on the fish is very much like our fingernails. It gather much dirt and other germs or bacteria, it must be removed completely. If the store’s policy is to keep the scales on the fish and stacking them on top of each other, then you should not buy fish from that store and go some where else. And if you really can’t get fish in that condition, then you should clean it right away after you got the fish home. First wash then in cold water with some salt. Then salt your salmon for 30 min, towel dry then wrap for storage if you are not going to cook it. If you are cooking it, then skip the salting process. Be sure to cook it well.
  4. I hope that these tips help you budding chefs out there!

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