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Chef Tom Black prepares fresh fish at VFW | Column & Recipes

Above, Chef Tom Black prepares Dungeness Crab Cakes during a cooking seminar for the Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington at the VFW Hall on Mercer Island, Nov. 12. Right, King Salmon with sauce choron and carmelized cippolini onions. - All photos by Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Above, Chef Tom Black prepares Dungeness Crab Cakes during a cooking seminar for the Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington at the VFW Hall on Mercer Island, Nov. 12. Right, King Salmon with sauce choron and carmelized cippolini onions.
— image credit: All photos by Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The fishing this past season was sparse,” said Dr. Robert Faine, of the Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington. But you couldn’t tell as Chef Tom Black of the Culinary Communion took on his “Cookin’ the Catch” assignment last Wednesday at the VFW Hall with determination. Black had four kinds of fish to cook from the Anglers Association; salmon, halibut, crab and perch. He thought carefully about flavors and textures. He also thought about presentation and was filled with ideas. Every year, the Puget Sound Anglers Association invites a prominent chef in the community to teach the group how to cook the season’s bounty. This year, Black took the limited catch and impressed the class.

I have always admired Black and noticed his fine work at places such as the Sheraton Seattle. He started there in 1998 and worked up through all the ranks in the hotel, ending up at the now defunct Fullers. In September of 2001, Black accepted the executive chef and general manager position at the outstanding Barking Frog Restaurant at Willows Lodge in Woodinville. He was an incredible representative and shined with an outstanding menu. In 2004, he worked at the Barking Frog’s sister property, the Restaurant at Alderbrook Resort, on Hood Canal. Today, Black has found his niche.

“I love working at the Culinary Communion,” he said. “I have found the perfect place to teach.”

Culinary Communion teaches cooking and wine classes in the Seattle area in an effort to create a community of food enthusiasts, or “foodies.” Join them for hands-on classes in your own home or at Culinary Communion. For more information on Culinary Communion, go to www.culinarycommunion.com or call 284-8687. It is located at 2524 Beacon Ave. S., between Beacon and 15th in Seattle. It recruits only the top talent in the city to teach. Below are some of the fish recipes and accompanying sauces that Black demonstrated for the Lake Washington Chapter of the NW Anglers Association. Bon Appetit!

Cooking the fish:

KING SALMON/HALIBUT HINTS from Chef Tom Black

Season both sides with salt and white pepper. I like to use white pepper because it has a mellow pepper flavor and does not leave telltale flakes from the pepper.

Get a sauté pan very hot, preferably a non-stick pan. Place a splash of canola oil or any other neutral oil. I prefer not to use olive oil due to its very low smoke point, meaning that it will begin to break down from the high heat a lot sooner than canola or other vegetable oil would. Allow the oil to get hot; this does not take long, around 10 seconds.

Place the fish in gently, presentation side down first — usually the inside part of the fillet, the non-skin side.

Cook until the fillet turns a nice golden brown around the edges, place the whole pan into a 450-degree oven for three to four minutes, take it out, gently turn it over, place it back into the oven and continue cooking for another three to four minutes, then remove and serve. Salmon should be right at medium and the flesh should be a little undercooked in the very center; it will continue to cook even after being removed from the oven. Halibut should be cooked until at least medium — just a bit past is perfect.

“If you are worried about overcooking, do the salmon for two minutes in a hot oven, then let it rest,” said Black.

KING SALMON WITH SAUCE CHORON AND CARAMELIZED CIPPOLINI ONIONS

SAUCE CHORON

3 TBS. white vinegar

3 TBS. white wine

10 peppercorns, crushed

2 TBS. finely chopped shallots

1 TBS. chopped tarragon

1 TBS. tomato paste

1 TBS. water

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, wine, peppercorns, shallots, tarragon and tomato paste. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Add the egg yolks and whisk over low heat until frothy, about 3 to 4 minutes. In a steady stream, add the butter until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce through a strainer and set aside.

CARAMELIZED CIPPOLINI ONIONS

3 TBS. butter

Pinch of sugar

20 ea. Cippolini onions, peeled

Salt and pepper

Directions

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and toss them to coat with butter. Cover and slowly cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until a golden color is reached. Turn heat up to medium high and begin to brown the onions, stirring constantly about 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

CHEF TOM BLACK’S DUNGENESS CRAB CAKES WITH RED PEPPER/CAPER REMOULADE

“How to Cook Crab Cakes,” by Chef Tom Black

Allow the oil to get hot; this does not take very long, around 10 seconds.

Cook until the cake just starts to turn a golden brown around the edges, place the whole pan into a 450-degree oven for three to four minutes, take out, gently turn over, place back into oven and continue cooking for another three to four minutes, then remove and serve. The crab cake should be warm/hot all the way through. It is important not to overcook because it will dry out the cake, making it less desirable.

CRAB CAKES

Yields 8 servings

4 Dungeness Crabs; pick through to remove cartilage

3 ea. red peppers, minced

3 ea. yellow peppers, minced

2 ea. Jalapeno, minced

3 oz. ginger-grated

1 cup Daikon sprouts, 1/4-inch chop, or other sprout is fine

1/4 cup ginger lime aioli, Panko to bind — a Japanese Bread Crumb, can substitute regular bread crumbs. Mix all together.

Dungeness

Crab Cakes

Get a sauté pan very hot, preferably a non-stick pan. Place a splash of canola oil or any other neutral oil.

Black said that he prefers not to use olive oil due to its low smoke point.

Aioli Base recipe

¼ cup Aioli base — make from recipe or use a non-flavored mayonnaise

1 cup lime juice

1 oz. ginger-grated

Form into pucks with 2 cups of mix. Lightly coat the outside with more bread crumbs or panko and sauté in hot olive oil until golden brown on first side. Flip and place it into a 400-degree oven for four to five minutes. Remove and serve with Spicy Roulade.

CHEF TOM BLACK’S SPICY REMOULADE

Yields 1 quart

2 1/2 cups Aioli Base

6 ea. red peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded

1 TBS. pimento spice

3 TBS. capers, rough chopped

1/2 oz. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Robocop or food processor, puree until smooth in consistency, then season and refrigerate.

Aioli Base — Yield: 8 servings

1/2 small clove of garlic, peeled

1 tsp. salt

1 large egg yolk (raw)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Approximately 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Approximately 1 cup olive oil

Lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smash up the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can chop the garlic very finely). Place the egg yolk and mustard into a bowl and whisk them together. Then start to add your olive oil bit by bit. Once you have blended in a half cup of the olive oil, you can start to add the rest in larger amounts. When you have added it all, you can add the garlic and lemon to taste and any extra flavors such as basil, fennel tops, dill and chopped roast nuts. To finish, just season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice.

CHEF TOM BLACK’S PERCH ROULADE WITH LEMON THYME BEURRE BLANC

Place roulades onto a non-stick sheet tray or a sheet lightly sprayed with a non-flavored pan spray. Season with salt and white pepper; lightly squeeze a little lemon juice over the fish. Arrange them with at least a 1” space between roulades. Bake in a 400-degree oven for approximately 8-10 minutes; it should be cooked all the way through. Be careful not to overcook, as the perch will dry out even though it has a filling. Remove from the pan with a spatula and serve; the roulade will be very delicate at this point. FILLING: Steam some rainbow chard using a bit of olive oil and some minced garlic. Serve Perch Roulade with Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc.

LEMON THYME BEURRE BLANC

4 TBS. white wine vinegar

4 TBS. dry white wine

2 TBS. finely minced shallots

1/2 bunch Thyme, chopped fine

Salt and white pepper

2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 16 pieces

In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, combine vinegar, wine, shallots, thyme, salt and white pepper, and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer liquid until it is reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Remove it from the heat and immediately whisk in two pieces of chilled butter. As the butter is incorporated into the liquid, add another piece and continue to whisk. Return the pan to low heat. While constantly whisking, add more butter. When all of the butter has been added, remove from heat. The sauce will be thick and creamy. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve immediately.

To hold the sauce, set the pan in a larger pan of lukewarm water. If the sauce separates, transfer a spoonful of it to a cold mixing bowl and gradually whisk the rest of the sauce in by the spoonful. The sauce can be reheated by gradually whisking 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot liquid, such as water, cream or stock.

Eileen Mintz can be reached by e-mail at eileenmintz@comcast.net or by calling 232-1984. She has been a restaurant consultant for over 18 years.

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