I love fish and seafood! Really I love anything that has to do with water. Rowing, scuba diving, swimming... This is possibly a bit odd having grown up in Arizona where water of any type is a rarity. I think the obsession was sparked by the long summers spent with my dad's side of the family in Seattle. I loved the fishmongers at Pike Place Market and the trips to Mukilteo to visit my aunt and uncle. My uncle had a homemade rowing boat and afternoons with him rowing on Puget Sound are amongst my best memories.
Since we almost never had fish when I was growing up, cooking it is something I have mostly taught myself. I have always been intimidated by the idea of gutting and filleting a fish. I did learn how to gut a squid in a university marine biology class, but other than that I usually get the fishmonger to do it for me.
Several months ago (it was actually in August...was slow with this post), I took a Beginner's Filleting and Cooking Fish course at the Waitrose Cookery School and learned that actually filleting fish is super easy!!
I arrived at the Waitrose Cookery School and enjoyed bubbly and nibbles (bread, olives, and cheese) while we waited for the class to start. The school is located just near Finchley Road Tube Station around the back of the Waitrose. It has been open just over a year and is a beautiful facility with a dining area, a lecture room and a large kitchen with stations for at least 20 students. After the nibbles we headed into the lecture room for an introduction and a lesson on recognizing fresh fish. This was followed by a demonstration on how to fillet a flat fish before we went off to try it ourselves.
The flat fish we were given was lemon sole to make lemon sole rolled and steamed with grain mustard. Filleting it was unbelievable easy and I enjoyed it. Once we had the two fillets we simply spread a layer of grain mustard and rolled them up, securing them with a tooth pick and broiled until flaky. A simple recipe, but really delicious...great for a weeknight.
We watched a second demonstration on how to fillet a round fish. This was a bit more difficult. Well not really, but some people were grossed out by the need to remove the guts and rinse it clean. The round fish we were given was mackerel and once it was filleted we simply placed it on a pan with oil and salt and pepper and grilled until flaky. It's best if it's brown and crispy on the outside.
In addition to the filleting we learned several quick and delicious recipes for different types of fish and some easy yummy sauces to accompany them.
This salsa verde was delicious and went with the grilled mackerel...
20g fresh flat leaf parsley
20g fresh mint
20g fresh basil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp salted capers, rinsed
4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
We also deep fried some cod in a deep fat fryer at 190C using this beer batter recipe. It was served with a simple and fresh tarter sauce...
125g self-raising flour
100ml soda water
100ml light beer
flour for dusting
Finally, we made simple Seared Tuna with Salt and Pepper (pictured on the left) and Sauteed Scallops with Butter and Parsley (on the right). Both took less than 10 minutes, but were delicious.
I really enjoyed this course, but did find it was targeted at those with little to no cooking experience. So if that's you definitely don't be intimidated. I am signed up to try a course at Billingsgate Market this week and hope that it will be a bit more challenging! I do recommend Waitrose Cookery School. It's a beautiful facility and the staff were great...I had a lot of fun! Plus for an evening after work it's nice if it's not too challenging.
Waitrose Cookery School
199 Finchley Road
Goldhurst Terrace entrance, (in the Waitrose building)