We had such a great day at our ever-popular seafood workshop last weekend, we had to share it with you!
Our seafood workshop began with a splash on Saturday morning as the rain lashed down outside. Students were welcomed inside with the comforting smells of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and hot tea and coffee. The chance to sit down around a table and enjoy some refreshments enabled our group to get to know one another.
After everyone had warmed up, our new chef Eoin Gary began by demonstrating a few seafood essentials, such as a salsa verde and a beurre blanc sauce, before bringing out the first catch of the day, freshly caught sea bass. Before long the smell of cookies had disappeared and in its place there was the heady aroma of fresh seafood.
Eoin wasted no time in demonstrating his in-depth and expert knowledge, providing continuous nuggets of information and tips that you wouldn’t find in any cookery book. It was clear that the students were enthralled, as they all huddled around, watching, listening, and asking question after question. From his explanation of the technicalities of different sauces, to the tools you need to scale and dissect a fish, Eoin was careful to consistently relate everything he did to a home cook’s perspective, ensuring that they went away feeling empowered to apply their knowledge to their own environment. This was, as one student whispered, a reason why they loved coming to our courses here at Cooks Academy.
Having demonstrated how to prepare a fresh, full sea bass, Eoin and Jack both worked patiently with the students as they attempted to prepare their own fish. One student explained that he had a river running through his back garden. He not felt confident enough to fish in it before, having not known what to do with the fish once he had caught it. A smile crossed his lips then, and he laughed, declaring that he would be out fishing every day now!
Once the fishes had been prepared, Eoin called the students around again, as he demonstrated the preparation of the sea bass, pan-fried in butter to make the skin sweet and crispy, with a side of blanched broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, served on a bed of fried baby gem lettuce with a beurre blanc sauce. Before sitting down to lunch, Eoin gave the students even more reason to look forward to lunch, as he whipped up a Crushed Crab Salad!
After a sumptuous lunch of their own making, the students gathered around, as chef Jack O’Keefe brought out a freshly caught 4.5kg salmon. From his time working in restaurant and hotel kitchens, Jack has learned to make use of every ounce of flesh, taking out a food tweezers to remove each bone, and saving any meat still attached. Sometimes you would only get one wild salmon all summer, Jack explained, so you had to make the most of it! This began a proactive discussion about the importance of using every part of the fish, being empowered to know how to, and not discarding anything.
Having watched the salmon being prepared with such respect and knowledge, the students took their darnes off to prepare another signature dish on our Seafood Workshop course, Salmon en Croute. Surrounding by light, flaky puff pastry, and stuffed with fresh basil leaves and basted with butter, this provided the perfect accompaniment to really taste the natural, rich flavour of the salmon.
The last dish of the day was Scallops with Bacon served on a bed of lettuce and sun-dried tomatoes. Fried for just a couple of minutes, this dish provided the perfect close to the day’s activities, as the students sat down to sample each other’s creations. One of our students, Cindy Martin, expressed her satisfaction with the workshop, exclaiming that it was a great way to learn new dishes. “I still cook many of the dishes I learned on the Italian Cooking course and the fish dishes I learned today are really great – I will definitely be making them at home!”
“I really loved the fish filleting. The instructions from Eoin were great. He´s very articulate and shows confidence in his fish skills and cooking. I loved the abundance of ingredients available to us, we were short of nothing. Overall I had a really good day and feel like I`ve learned lots!”
Ailish Hassett – October 2016
“First time at Cooks Academy. Friendly atmosphere, very engaging chefs. Good balance between demo and practical skills/doing. I have already booked for sauces course in a few weeks. Will be recommending to friends and family.”
Catherine Hallahan – October 2016
To learn all about seafood and how to cook with it please see our Seafood Workshop web page.