Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fishy Debate: Fresh vs Frozen

With an increasing awareness about the dangers that lurk within the meaty abyss, more people are now leaning towards the leaner, supposedly, healthier choice. But the perceived 'freshness' of fish raises many more eyebrows than its red fleshed counterpart does. In that regard, the debate over which is a better choice for fish-- fresh or frozen-- is a long drawn out one.

Let us first put some definitions on the plate. Fresh fish is that which has never EVER been frozen, right from the time it is caught to the time it reaches the table for eating. Frozen fish falls in the opposite category and has braved the cold in the freezer at some point.

The most important factor that affects the quality of fish is time. The fish our purveyors call 'fresh' has usually spent several lonely days (and nights) on ice before we get to buy it at the supermarket or fish supplier. Though this fish may technically be fresh, in all honesty, it may not pass the 'freshness' test.

To tell if a whole fish is fresh (a.k.a, has not spent a lot of time outside water and will taste good), you will have to get down and dirty with the fellow. Here are a few tips to help you decide.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kitchen Jargon Demystified

The professional kitchen is an entirely different world with its own set of rules. It also has its own language-- one with strange references and hard-to-understand phrases. Here, I'm uncovering just a few of those many terms used almost daily in the kitchen.

Short for the french term 'mise-en-place' which means 'everything in place' a.k.a perfectly organized. It doesn't just refer to the actual prep but also having your utensils, plates, sauces and such on hand and in the right place positioned according to the perfect laws of ergonomics. The better the mise en place, the better the night will be. Every professional cook in the world will agree to that.

French word for "Yes" often used in response to Chef's instructions. The opposite, No, is seldom used.

Sometimes confused with the dirtbag, this is someone who takes the shortcut route to preparing something, that usually ends up being a lower quality product.

Someone who's personal hygiene is questionable or maintains a messy work environment around him.

What the kitchen team needs to do to ensure a smooth service when the restaurant is really busy and orders are pouring in. A busy restaurant has several small pushes but also one big push during the busiest time of the night. Focus, organization, speed, and mad skills are critical in ensuring a particular station or the entire kitchen avoids being in the shits.

In the shits/going down
When a particular station or the entire kitchen (a nightmare!) fails to be able to cope with the orders coming in from the dining room. This could be due to several factors like poor leadership, bad organization, lack of focus etc.