Take a Chance on Me.

A lot of times when the Chefs hand out our daily team assignments, I tend to volunteer to work on things that either I like to eat, or I’m comfortable making.  I realized recently though that the entire point of being a culinary STUDENT, is to do the things that are unfamiliar and scary!  I need to start taking more CHANCES and RISKS!  I’ve been trying to step out of the box a little bit more, especially now that I’m in my sophomore term.  Last week I did two chicken dishes, so it seemed fitting that this morning I would offer to fillet some fresh fish.

We were making a grilled striped rainbow trout with a Moroccan chermoula sauce.  When I opened the box I was surprised to find that the fish were actually already broken down somewhat.  All we really had to do was remove the skins, check for pin bones, and cut into individual portions.

IMG_3766 (800x600)

We learned to fillet whole fish in New World Cuisine, and I was actually pretty good at it.  Way back in Skills of Meatcutting class, I got one of the highest grades in my class for breaking down chickens.  I might not eat it, but I sure can cut it up! :) 

IMG_3765 (800x600) IMG_3767 (800x600) 

IMG_3769 (800x600)

Once we weighed out the portions, we did a hard sear on the top side of each fillet, and laid them out on parchment paper. 

 IMG_3770 (800x600) IMG_3771 (800x600)

We mixed up the Moroccan chermoula marinade, and brushed it all over the fish. 

IMG_3772 (800x600)

About 20 minutes of baking in the oven later, it came out flaky and flavorful…

IMG_3781 (800x600)

When we first got to class this morning, our Chef told us he wanted to start our practical exams today, which was a bit of a surprise to me!  To make matters more complicated, our practicals were testing our ability to use the high powered woks – something I have never used!  Believe me, these are not the same woks we put on our stovetops at home.  These are like jet engines of fire, that you control with a giant lever that goes between your legs – seriously.

After watching his demo, I decided to take another chance, and go ahead and volunteer to do mine today, even though I had never practiced it before.  I knew that if I could just get it done, I’d be fine, but if I worried too much about it, I would over think it and stress out too much.  No pictures of the wok in action, because I was too stressed out and being graded on my time, but I did take a picture of my final dish…

IMG_3773 (800x600)

I made an Asian stir fry with rice, cabbage, red peppers, baby corn, cubed tofu (!), sliced portabellas, green onions, garlic, and a spicy peanut soy sauce.  I thought it came out really tasty! 

IMG_3775 (800x600)

I was the very first person to go, so it was a little nerve-racking.  I ended up getting an A- because my tofu broke apart a little bit (it was silken, booooo).  An A is an A though, so I was thrilled, and now I am totally relieved to have it DONE – yay!

While I prepped and made my stir fry, other people were cooking things up all around the classroom… These were called sanbusak, and were basically fried fritters with EGG SALAD inside – wow!

IMG_3778 (800x600)

I actually got a picture of the inside of one that exploded in the fryer.  I didn’t try one, but I heard they were very good. 

IMG_3776 (800x600)

Did I even mention that today’s cuisine was African??  Yes, food of Africa today.  Which also included collard greens with smoked ham hocks and peanut butter…

IMG_3779 (800x600)

Doro Wat – an Ethiopian chicken and vegetable dish…

IMG_3780 (800x600)

Red lentil and rice soup – sadly made with chicken stock…

IMG_3782 (800x600)

Fava beans and tomatoes – this group had to actually shell all of those fava beans!

IMG_3783 (800x600)

And last but not least – Fattouche!  This is an African bread salad and it is deeeelicious!  I had a big plate of it for lunch, along with my leftover stir-fry. 

IMG_3784 (800x600)

Home for a few minutes, but heading back out the door.  I’m headed to Kath’s house for a SLOW four mile run.  Hopefully she takes pity on my ridiculously low lung capacity.  And speaking of…

Thank you for the concerns about all the recent sickness!  I am hoping that paying better attention to my nutrients and vitamins will help get my immune system kicking again.  To answer the questions though, NO I am definitely not pregnant, and YES I am actually getting enough sleep!  I have been making a point to be in bed no later than 9:30pm at night, and I get up at 5:00am every day.  I feel like 7.5 hours should definitely be enough!  Especially with catch up on the weekends…

Tomorrow morning I’ll show you my daily vitamin lineup – maybe that will offer some insight?  Off to pound the pavement with Kath