Saturday, May 21, 2011

Filet O' Fish

The morning shift (11-3:30ish) consists mainly of making the decorations and prep for the evening service. Although lunch service still occurs, there is more time to make the preparations for the night ahead.

Today, I worked mainly with seafood; doing both the cleaning and the cooking. I began with mussels or cozze. Because they do not use the shell I only had to clean off the grit. For the clams or vongole, I put them in a bowl of water to remove the sand. To make sure they were good I dropped them on the counter to make sure they made the right sound. After all were clean we put them in pans of olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Then after they cooked for awhile we added wine and fish stock. We let them simmer, covered, until they all opened beautifully.

Fabio also showed me how to filet a fish. Taking a knife against the backbone, then down the gill, and again to cut off the organs. A bit of a disgusting process, but very interesting. Then you use tweezers to remove all of the tiny bones still in the filet. I think I may need to see this a few more times before they put me in charge!

Later in the night shift, I helped peel shrimp. I felt like I was back in Natalia's kitchen on my first day of work. During my senior year internship I was asked to peel 30 pounds of shrimp, no easy task! But the shrimp or scampi we worked on tonight were a bit different. Not only did we have to remove the heads, but we also had to clean "the vein" which is not really a vein, it's waste.

Although these might not be the most glamorous jobs in the kitchen, they are very important. One of the main reasons I think Il Bottaccio is so successful is because of all the little things that go into each dish. It is all about the process, from cleaning gross parts of the seafood to putting the delicate decorations on top, everything comes together in the final product.

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