Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Skin Deep

It's been blowing a hoolie the past few days. There have been some spectacular sunny breakthroughs, with the murk parting to reveal the deep-blue-grey, white-capped and glinting expanse of the sea. At the weekend we watched a grey heron battling to reach the shore against the fierce southerly wind. At one point it gave up and landed, exhausted, in the middle of the road. The indignity.

It feels like hibernation mode is beginning to kick in. On these wet and windy autumn evenings TV programmes like 'Masterchef: The Professionals' are enjoyable, 'cosy' viewing for borderline-foodies like me. It's just one of those things that sneaks up on you: quite ridiculous and formulaic TV but compulsive viewing nevertheless.

Last evening Michel Roux Jr had set the challenge to the squad of eager young pretenders of preparing a particular salmon dish, served with a vegetable stew and a cream and sorrel sauce. It looked quite delicious and refreshingly simple apart from the treatment of the salmon skin. This was removed after initial searing in a hot pan, then crisped up in a hot oven. So far so good. However, he then proceeded to serve up the dish with the piece of skin stuck upright in the perfect piece of salmon like some gruesome sail. I commented to my wife that it was a grim way to end up: skewered by a crispy piece of your own flayed skin.

I am glad to see recipes emerging where the skin of the fish is cooked in a way that makes people more inclined to eat it. I usually eat my fish skin but I note that a lot of people never do. Maybe that's just because I was always taught not to waste food. And the skin is a nutritious bit of food.

So, if Mr Roux Jr wants to turn his salmon into a little sail boat adrift on a sea of cream and sorrel, wending its ragged way towards a perfectly-prepared-turnip and artichoke archipelago, perhaps we should just let him have his fun. He does have two Michelin stars you know.

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