The most adventurous dish of January.
When I had red the recipe at the first time I did not understand it. At all. Thanks to my culinary education and experienced chefs from work and school, I had cracked that recipe and it gave me unpredictable results – long-term stable edible foam!
Fish Mayonnaise, according to E. Molohovec’s book, is the name of a complex dish which’s made from any kinds of poached fish, covered with fish aspic and fish mousse or foam.
leek – 1 pc
Parsley root – 1 pc
Celery leaf- 2 pc
Middle white onion – 1 pc
Whole Fish – the main ingredient of the dish, could be anything- 1pc. (red snapper in my case)
Bay leaf – 1 pc
White pepper corn – 10 pc
Egg white – 2 pc
White Fish scraps (bones, meat), shell of shellfish – 2 lb
Lemon juice – 1 pc or white vinegar 1 table spoon
Fish Consomme – 1 liter
Gelatine – 4 teaspoons
Water to soak gelatine – apr 1 cup
Purify butter or ghee, liquid – 1 teaspoon
Fish aspic – 1 cup
Vinegar – 2 table spoon
Chop and mix together all ingredients for white mirepoix, refrigerate it over night.
2. Making Fish Stock.
Take a pot and put your main fish inside the pot. Divide the white mirepoix for two equal halves, place one half in the pot with fish. Add bay leaf and white pepper corns, salt it. Cover with cold water, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmering, almost poaching (slow or no movements of liquid), keep under the lid for 25-30 minutes.
Carefully remove the fish from the stock, trying do not tear it apart. Let the fish to cool down. Strain the fish stock through a cheesecloth removing any peaces of impurity from the stock. Put the stock over a bowl with ice and place it into a refrigerator. We need to have it cold.
Meanwhile prepare the fish. Carefully remove all bones from fish and place bone-free flesh over your serving plate wherever you like it. Plate could be decorated with any vegetables and herbs.
3. Making Fish consomme.
Consomme is crystal-clear fortified stock. Could be made with chicken, beef, vegetables or, in our case, with fish.
Mix cold white mirepoix with egg white and fish scraps, place them into a pot, pour in the cold fish stock, add lemon juice or vinegar. Place the pot over heat, get your hand into the liquid, reaching the bottom of the pot and stir slowly. Do not take out your hand till the temperature of the liquid’ll not allow you to continue to do so. This action prevents stacking the meat to the bottom. Keep the temperature about simmering, do not allow the liquid to break the raft (cooked meat and vegetables on the top). Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Have you bowl-strainer-cheese cloth & ladle instruments ready. When you have a formed raft on top, take the pot form heat and start gathering the stock from the edges of the pot. Carefully. Strain through the cheesecloth. Ideally, you’ll get clear fortified fish consomme. Measure the liquid volume.
*I did meat and chicken consomme before, but fish consomme was my first one and it took me long time to figure out how to clarify the stock. One option to clarify fish consomme is to add vinegar and egg shells to the consomme, simmer for 10 minutes and strain. But this method did not work for me. The Book suggests to purify consomme with black caviar which is illegal to sell and buy now, so I even did not try it. Another way which I tried last is to make fortification for the fish stock as described from above but do not add the lemon juice. Then gather stock and make one extra step of clarification by adding lemon juice and, optionally, add sherry wine and burned sugar for taste and color; after that, place the pot over a small heat and wait 30 minutes. Accuracy strain the liquid through the cheesecloth.
4. Making fish aspic.
Mean while, prepare gelatin. You need 2 teaspoon of gelatin for 0,5 liters of liquid to get strong aspic. Take necessary amount of gelatin and mix it with a cup of water. You could need to add more water if gelatin stays dry. While the consomme is still warm, mix it with gelatin. Divide the mixture in two equal parts. First is for aspic to cover the fish, another for the fish mousse. Cover the fish with the liquid aspic when it’s chilled but not solid. After covering, let it sit in a fridge to get solid.
5. Fish Mousse.
Take a metal bowl and put it over another bowl with ice, so ice reaches the middle of the first bowl. Take the remained aspic, pour it in the upper metal bowl, add vinegar. Start to whisk and continuously add the butter drop-by-drop, so you’ll get some foam on the top of liquid. Use this foam to decorate your plate with fish, finishing the Fish Mayonnaise.
Foam holds about a week!
*My first couple attempts to figure out what is it the “mousse” and how to make it were unsuccessful because I could not understand how the mouse should look like. My mistake was the word “mayonnaise”, so I expected to get the structure close to mayo’s structure; because of it, I poured too much butter into the mixture. But the role of butter in the mousse recipe is a flavorful, not an emulsified component . Even tough The Book suggests to put 1/3 cup of butter on 2 1/2 cups of aspic, it’s too much. 1 teaspoon is pretty enough! Ether way you’ll get something like that:
Even though I got the right structure of the dish and made all necessary steps: stock -> clear stock -> consomme -> clear consomme -> clear aspic & foamed aspic, (if spend a little bit more time and think about the food composition, it would look appetizing) the taste of the dish was awful and it definitely needs to be worked over the taste because fish and vinegar/lemon juice smells do not work well together, so it could lead to changing of the methodology of consomme cooking. If you have any ideas how to clarify fish stock without adding of acid, please, write down in the comments.
By the way, it was my first fish in aspic which I made and tried and now I understand one of the most popular phrase from the famous Russian New Year Eve’s comedy movie “Irony of Fate or Enjoy your Bath” ( Watch a full movie here http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Irony-of-Fate-or-Enjoy-Your-Bath-Bonus-Material/70030353) in Russian folklore about this dish: ” What a nasty thing… what a nasty thing is your fish in aspic!”
Nevertheless the taste and appearance of the food were nasty, I got a very very impressive experience how to get a strong stable edible foam for food decoration. That was the most unpredictable and surprising part of the experiment because nowadays a lot of chefs around the world tries to find an easy way to get something foamy and stable. This experiment shows that you need to get an any way flavored aspic and simply whisk it over the ice! Or get a neutral flavored aspic (vegetable/chicken), wish it over the ice and add a small amount of flavor suitable for your food which you’ll decorate! Aspic could be made ahead in large batches, it keeps well and long, so it’s pretty convenient for fine dining restaurants.
*Original recipe #1469