Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CIA Culinary Arts Boot Camp, day 5

The class is over. I already miss the temperamental Viking oven, the sunny herb garden, the gravity tongs that we all hated but finally got used to, the collection of, you guessed right, corkscrews, the desserts, and, most of all, the instructors and the classmates.
The class taught me a lot. It certainly helped to develop the confidence and the humility that every chef needs. However, the best thing about the class was that it put me together with other freaks just like myself, who take food extremely seriously and can talk about it for hours. I am not the only one out there!

The topics of the fifth day were deep frying, stir frying, and the foods of Asia.

For the first time in my life, very carefully, I tasted a Sichuan pepper. It feels hot and cold at the same time. I thought: tastes like a fever. The I realized that there is a lot of energy in it, so fever is not a good metaphor. OK, it tastes like extreme skiing in a snowstorm.

We made:

Fried shrimp rolls

Sichuan noodles with beef

Fried squid

Asian fried chicken

Stir fried vegetables

Chicken stir fry with tamarind

and a few other things, after we learned that the participants of a cake competition upstairs are coming over for dinner. Since there is no pastry class on Fridays, we were counting on the cake people to bring down cakes. Imagine: they didn’t! They just came down to eat with us, and there was no dessert!

I got my kitchen branding with burning peanut oil (too hot wok, a little bit too much oil, and my stir fry was up in flames, and my left hand looks like one of a real chef now, with several burns that are peeling skin and promise to leave scars), a certificate and a CIA apron.

Inspired by the class, I am making duck confit with ginger and star anise from the Charcuterie book (substituted shallots for scallions because I didn’t have them, and blood orange for the regular one, just because I can) and curing bacon with oregano, black pepper, and bay.

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