I was a littttllle bit anxious about this lesson as, let’s face it, shells, shellfish and the like are not really (really not) my favorite kind of food. Maybe it stems from the time that I still didn’t like fish, having not grown up with the stuff and while I love fish now, that took about 40 years (or so)! So maybe it will take even longer for me to ever like shellfish, but quite frankly I have a hard time believing that it might ever happen.
Take oysters for example; whole generations of people love oysters and would spend a fortune for getting a good oyster in their mouth. Of course preferably raw. I had tried an oyster once at a Chinese restaurant (a very good Chinese restaurant I have to add) and well, I didn’t like it. It was prepared so I think it might have been steamed although I am not sure of that anymore as it is years ago. I just felt it was a mouth full of snot so to speak… But of course one of the topics of the class was how to open an oyster (that was one) and then ofcourse eating one… Rob (who’s hands you’re seeing on the photo on the left) looooves oysters so he had eaten the first two already before he started passing them around. I first didn’t want to eat one, but then I figured; what the hell… you have to try everything once right? So Rob opened the oyster, poured out a bit of the seawater inside and gave it to me giving me instructions on how to eat it. And so I did…. and aaaaggghhhrrr, what a horrible mouthful of salt blubber!! Disgusting… Sorry, but that’s not ever gonna make me want another one.. 🙂 Sorry for all you oyster fans out there, but how can you possibly like that? In case you are wondering; we had one of the best types of oyster around. Don’t ask me which one, but knowing Rob, he would not have cheap oysters lying around.
So did not like the oysters; then Rob went on explaining all the different animals you have, such as lobsters and their different varieties, crabs, prawns, river crayfish, scallops, clams (!), cockles, mussels, langoustine, oysters ofcourse and probably a few I forgot.
The lobsters and the river crayfish where alive, as were the clams and cockles and the scallops (for those paying attention to the photo; yes, they are open but they were closed when bought earlier that day) and after the extensive explanation on how to clean each one of them and what you could do with each one we got to choose what we wanted to do. We picked scallops to make “coquilles in safron creamsauce” and crabs, which where gonna be filled. Cleaning the scallops is not really hard. They open much easier (I had scallops that were closed) then oysters or clams and you then proceed to remove the beard and the gallbladder (? not sure if that’s what it’s called but it’s the black part) You can eat the coral (the bright yellow part) as that is very proteinrich (it’s basically the sexorgan of the shell if I understand correctly so eggs and seed and full of protein… 🙂 )
I actually do like scallops so naturally I picked those to prepare. We made a sauce basically by sauteing the beard (after rinsing it from sand and other debris… Wow, what do those creatures eat? Sand?? ) adding wine and fish stock, then reducing and once reduced use the mixer to puree it, add cream into the pan and reduce some more until it has the right consistency. Once you’ve done that put it through a sieve to get rid of all the beard pieces that are too big and with the handmixer put in two of the coral, which binds the sauce a little. The rest of the coral we left on to be grilled later, as it is quite edible so I am not sure why they are removed so often. I think it looks quite pretty that yellow part.
We grilled the scallops in a wok, since the grill was occupied with loads of langoustine and ended up flambeing the scallops with calvados and I can tell you they were delicious!! I would probably never have bought whole scallops without having this class but I am thinking now I will. They are quite expensive here. One piece is about 3 euro, so that is quite ridiculously expensive for a little bit of meat, but for special occassions this might still be worth it.
One of our group made scallops with the same sauce although it tasted very different so I am not sure what she added in there and with pear, which was delicious too. But it looks good doesn’t it? We sure liked it.
Then on to the crab which was ok, but I wasn’t wild about the final taste of the dish although Rob thought we did a pretty good job. We had an entire table filled with goodies by the time it was 10 pm so when we sat down to eat, it was almost ridiculous so much food we had made. Normally you can bring home a lot of the stuff you make but this was not a real easy topic to take home. Although most of the leftover went home anyway (not with us though… noooooo sir)
Ooo, I wanted to share the photo of Tom grating cheese, as I thought that was pretty funny, but I have already added so many photos here, you might get bored… Haha… You see him (yes, he is the bald handsome guy.. 🙂 ) practising his Jamie look (we always joke when I want to take a photo of someone in action I ask them to take on the Jamie pose… haha and it works too!) From left to right you see Tom seasoning the filled crabs, Mike grilling his scallops, clams being prepared and the steaming of some oysters.
What a feast… While not my favorite kind of food, I loved this lesson again as I learned a great deal plus I am now no longer afraid to clean my own scallops. I will never be found killing a lobster, although yes, I do realize that is on the hypocritical side, but then again, there are things I just won’t do…
O and I did also try one of the prepared oysters and I still thought it was disgusting. They say it is like olives, you have to learn to eat them (and it is true, I thought olives where disgusting at some point and I love them now… mmm, weird really!) but I just think I will pass on the honour.. lol..
Again, fabulous fun, so if you want to join in the fun have a look at the website of Kookstudio Amsterdam for the latest and greatest courses. I assure you it is worth the money! (and I am not saying that because I have to, but because it is true…)