It means lots of 12 hour days and burnt fingers, and more fish and chips than I can count, but it also means amazing access to fabulous fresh fish, all the time, and more than that, people who KNOW about the fabulous fresh fish, and are willing to talk to me about it!
I am learning the importance of bleach towels, the many uses of ladles (not just for soup, who could have guessed!) and just how many orders I can get out at once without compromising quality- it isn't as easy as it looks that is for sure, certainly not some fat chef in an office somewhere dreaming up works of art in a leather arm chair, this is hard work!
I love going to work now, everyday I learn a little more, and even though I also have lots of doubts about my choice (the hours are crazy, who knows how people ever have kids, the people are wild and the work is hours over a hot stove, on your feet, everyday) but I am having so much fun that I can't wait to learn more and get back to work the next day.
But working in a fish market slash restaurant does have it's downside, there is just no way to resist all of that great stuff! My last few minutes have to be spent thinking about how to put all of this amazing fish to good use (other than munching down an entire smoked salmon belly strip). The day I made this I was actually planing on making an arugula salad with figs caramelized in a little balsamic vinegar with my big prawns but since there were no figs, or Arugula at the store I had to improvise, and the truth is you just can't go wrong with avocados:
Tiger Prawns with Mango-Apricot Salsa and Avocado:
These prawns remind me of Paris, my neighbors would get these big prawns and douse them with a little olive oil and garlic before putting them on the bbq to grill- I can't remember ever having a better meal, simple, fresh, with good wine and good friends. I wanted to capture the spirt of that dish, but play up the flavors a little more by adding a fruity element.
For the Shrimp:
In my kitchen cabinet I have a little olive oil which I spiked with some orange zest, garlic, tyme and pepper corns, it has been sitting in there getting flavorful for about a month, so I thought I would test it out on the prawns. But you can always just use plain olive oil if you don't feel like waiting quite that long. Get your pan nice and hot, and add your shrimp which has already been tossed with the oil, a little sea salt, and some chopped garlic. Cook them on both sides until they feel firm, are tightly curled, and pink all around. You can peel them first but I like having little finger bowls with lemon water on the table, it gives people something to do with their hands, slows down the meal and personally I think playing with your food is always better.
For the Salsa:
1 ripe Mango, roughly chopped
2 apricots, roughly chopped
4 shallots, finely chopped
1/4th a jicama, julienned
1 small box grape tomatoes cut in half (the tomatoes, not the box)
a small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped (or just taken off the stem, however you like it)
salt & pepper to taste
Mix and let stand while you are cooking the prawns so they will have time to marinate a tad, and arrange on the plate over some rice, with the prawns on top. You can squirt with a little extra lime if you like, or serve with a lime wedge, but I was happy as is.
To make an avocado fan, I used a 1/4th an avocado per place, just sliced about 3/4ths the way down and spread out with your fingers, straight ward, easy and delicious, the whole mean can easily be made in under 30 minutes but it looks like it took much much longer.
I suppose all of this fancy new food needs a fancy new look to go with it, pas vrais? So here is a little pre-view of soon-to-be chef Katy in her new culinary student digs, pretty sharp eh?