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Belgian Blue

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    Walloon Brabant, Belgium
  1. Hi ChefCrash, The penny 'dropped' with your sentence "As far as the amount of liquid leaching from the fish, I think that's proportional to the amount of salt used." Seeing it in black and white, it makes sense. As for the marbles and water in a bag (aka the 'fish' with holes, leaking, like any once living organism) within the vac pack - this was a 'let there be light' moment and indeed, the light penetrated. Thank you - I understand and I appreciate you're taking the time to explain. For me, the texture is as important as the taste and I'll stick to the more traditional method from now on though I shall experiment to see how far I can reduce the amount of salt/sugar in the cure and still obtain a good result. Thanks again BB BB
  2. Hi ChefCrash and Hi David (I tried 'multiquote' - but I'm obviously not sufficiently proficient at it)! ChefCrash, my bag had about the same amount of liquid as in your photo, but that is a tiny amount compared to the amount of liquid that would occur in a more 'traditional' dry cure (the type I usually do). Each time I bought the same salmon from the same supermarket (we're not talking 'wild' salmon, but farmed salmon and the supermarket displays its produce on ice and I'm aware that's by no means optimal but, at least, my experiment is consistent). With the more 'traditional' method, I have always had a good result, apart from the last time, when I (way) over-salted. As the salt enters the flesh, it chases the moisture out, but if the vacuum is fairly tight, the moisture cannot escape and so the texture is, to say the least, not optimal (at least that is how my challenged brain sees things - if I'm wrong, please accept my apologies). It's the underlying process that baffles me - I just can't figure out how the moisture (liquid) is supposed to escape from the flesh, as it would in a more 'traditional' process, if it's trapped by the vacuum? No matter - the texture was so unpleasant that it was not good to eat. The whole lot has been binned but that's also part of the learning curve and I'm loving this thread! BB p.s. David - I've already made the 'sweet pea risotto'(with scallops) twice. A HUGE culinary joy both times. Thank you! BB
  3. I've got to try the vacuum technique. In the old days we were taught to weigh down the salmom in the brine using a can of beans! The dry cure technique works well in a zip bag too but i've found that in a vacuum bag everything stays cleaner, no chance of leaks and i'm sure that the cure mixture stays in proper contact with the meat without having to turn the bags. I cure my meats the same way. Salt and vac pack. To report on my vacuum pack dry curing using 3% salt and 1.5% sugar with Atlantic salmon. I left the salmon in the pack for 52 hours. The reason I didn't remove it sooner is that I couldn't see any noticeable change in either the colour or texture of the salmon, as I can with the non vac pack procedure. The vacuum stayed relatively tight and there was very little liquid visible in the pack. On removing the salmon it felt very 'wet', sodden in fact which made it difficult to cut. Taste-wise it surprised me given the small amounts used - the salt, sugar and flavourings had penetrated through the entirety of the flesh. However, because of the vacuum, moisture could not drain out of the flesh and the end result is salmon with a texture akin to raw salmon but with the taste of cured salmon. To be honest I'm not sure what to make of it. Would love to hear what others think. BB
  4. Doing some quick googling, it appears the guidelines are -20C for 7 days or -35C for 24 hours if served fresh, -20C for 24 hours if served lightly cured. The article you linked to was the one that got me thinking about this - in it the author questions the exact wording, in particular in his view it should be 24h freezing at -20°c to be counted from the time the core has reached -20°c. Which adds quite a bit of time to the 24h freezing.
  5. I admit to being curious about the oil in the recipe. What role does oil have in the cure please? On the previous part of the post about dry curing salmon (not brining), can anyone tell me how long they freeze the salmon to kill potential parasites, before defrosting and starting the curing process? There appears to be a host of conflicting information on the net about this subject, from 24h after freezing to the core at -20°c to a whopping 7 days at the same core temperature. Would be very interested to hear what other posters who home (dry) cure their fish - without further hot smoking - do. BB
  6. Wonderful - thank you very much David for the recipe David. I'm really looking forward to trying it. Great thread in general and Panaderia Canadensis' suggestion for the scallops looks interesting too. BB
  7. David, would it be indiscreet, or incorrect given the title of the thread, to ask if you also used a stock for the pea puree? I ask because 1. this dish has really got to me and 2. the base liquid for the risotto is chicken stock and the majority of pea purée recipes I see use chicken stock also, although I did see one recipe which uses no stock at all - just butter, some echalotte and the peas. I remain curious and hopeful. Thank you, BB
  8. At the risk of sounding distinctly syncophantic here David, that soup looks delicious - thank you for giving the ingredients. Love the look of it and the way all the elements look clean, fresh, separate and just tantalising. BB
  9. The first dish I tried was the 'scallop tartare with white chocolate' which uses HB's fish stock. I couldn't imagine ever being wowed by a stock but this one left me stunned it is so very good - all I could think of was Marseilles and a good 'Bouillabaisse' - it's that good and for me personally, this stock alone made buying the book worthwhile. Back to the dish - all the single elements worked - the prawn oil was quite a surprise. At first I thought, 'nothing happening here' then as the oil cools, the flavour and colour emerge and it packs quite a prawn punch. The scallop tartare - good, very subtle. The walnut oil, sherry vinegar and lemon work well together without overpowering the sweet scallops (I didn't make HB's pickled lemon as I had my own preserved lemons). The 'white' foam base (aka sauce) tastes wonderful but it wasn't white - it was more of a deep cream colour (not surprising as the stock has quite a lot of saffron in it). Maybe it would have foamed 'white' if I'd had a more powerful stick blender - I'll try it again just to see if it foams but the taste was great. It was at the finishing stage that I felt disappointed; the addition of the white chocolate gave a definite sweetness to the dish. Personally I didn't like this and would have preferred the dish without it (the recipe gave no information about the chocolate which did surprise me - if I try another savoury recipe using white chocolate I'll contact Callebaut or another chocolatier beforehand to find out which chocolate would be the most appropriate). The other element of the finishing is the 'caviar or salmon roe'. I used salmon roe and, in my opinion, it doesn't work. The overall subtlety of the different elements of the dish need some sort of counterbalancing kick and IMO the caviar would have provided this. The biggest surprise is that the photo in the book doesn't match the plating instructions in the recipe and the portions are TINY. There are just 2 scallops per portion served in a (smaller than) 2" (5cm) ring mould which leaves just enough surface to place one scallop on top - if you're lucky! - whereas the recipe calls for the scallops to be cut into 3 discs each. So there are hiccups on that front (and I met the same type of hiccup in another recipe) which is annoying but quickly sorted by re-portioning (if you have enough to start with) and re-plating. That said, I had great fun making all the elements of this dish and I learned a lot at the same time. There are elements I will use again and again in the future. BB
  10. I haven't made the recipe yet, but that does sound like a lot of oil if it is indeed supposed to be roasted, which leads me to think that what he is calling for is un-roasted. Initially when I got to the market I felt elated as there were lots of brands of oil all simply labelled 'sesame oil'. It's only on close inspection of the label that you find the word 'roasted'. I think that when I get to the point where this has to be added I'll do the 'mise en place' with both types of oil and (try to) apply a 'sanity/taste' test to the ingredients for the mix. However I'm hoping someone here has done the recipe and can throw some light on it. Thank you. BB
  11. I can only go by personal experience here and after reducing or flaming off the alcohol I add to sauces, etc. the end result has a mellow depth of flavour that is far removed from the raw alcohol initially added. BB
  12. Thank you very much - I'll try it your way next time and report back. David, I second that - a really helpful tutorial. Followed the 'Uncork'd' link - WOW! - I got lost for hours in unbelievably wonderful food, but I still think your risotto is a VERY beautiful dish. With some courage, I might try to re-create it. BB
  13. I don't know Escoffier's recipe so cannot comment on it but whenever I use alcohol in dishes I always cook or burn it off. BB
  14. Did anyone here make the Szechuan broth with duck dumplings' recipe? I have the stock freezing in ice-cube trays at the moment but there's one element of the recipe that perplexes me, and that's the type of sesame oil HB intended. When I went to the Chinese market to buy the Shaoxing wine etc., I saw different brands of roasted sesame oil everywhere - lots of it - but no unroasted oil, which leads me to believe that is what HB intended when he wrote '35g sesame oil'. To me, that looks like an enormous quantity of roasted sesame oil. I'd therefore be interested to know if anyone has made the recipe and their feelings on the sesame oil question. BB
  15. Utterly beautiful looking dish - your risotto in particular looks so creamy! I'd be very happy to be served that dish in a restaurant. BB
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