Fine dining at home has made a serious resurgence in the past ten years as ingredients have become readily available and people have become ready to take the risk of trying something new in front of their friends. Cooking for a group of any size can be a challenge, especially when you’ve decided to go all out and attempt to serve seafood.
First of all, the venue needs preparing. Do you have the right space, tableware and décor? If lacking, visit www.cameocateringequipmenthire.co.uk for all your fine dining needs.
Then, it is time to think about the fish. Follow these tips to ensure you party goes off with a bang.
Firstly, sourcing fresh fish is paramount to your success. If you get this part right, then the rest of the day becomes infinitely more straightforward. Get it wrong, however, and you risk upsetting your guests and their stomachs.
Fish should be bought fresh and never served from frozen. Guests will instantly be able to tell the difference, so do not risk serving up a cheaper option. Where possible, purchase from a local fishmonger although several leading supermarkets are beginning to offer high quality fresh fish as well.
Freshness is extremely important. Fortunately, there are a number of signs to look out for that should go some way to guarantee the freshness of the catch.
Its firmness is a key indicator as the how long it has been sat in a supermarket or fishmongers. A fresh fish should sit up firm and rigid, without the need for close support. A limp or soggy looking fish is usually past its best.
The fish should also have a shine and its eyes should be black and bulging. A fish that has been caught recently should not look dull or tired.
Plenty of blood and a tricky to remove backbone and skin are also excellent indicators of a freshly caught fish. A lack of blood indicates a fish has been frozen or the blood has coagulated over time. An easy to remove backbone suggests a chemical flesh softening process has been used on the fish.
Try to source the fish on the day of the party, or at the very least, the evening before. This will ensure guests are served quality, fresh fish that hasn’t been going stale in your refrigerator.
Once the fish is sourced, it is time to get down to the fun part – preparation! Bear with us on this one, it is not as difficult as you might think, but make sure you take plenty of time. This guide deals with round fish, such as hake or salmon; beware that other types of fish require different methods of cleaning.
The first step is to gut the fish by starting at the fin and cutting open the belly in the direction of the fish’s gills. Once you’ve made a deep enough cut, remove the guts and scrape clean the inside. To remove any remaining guts and any traces of blood you must next rinse out the inside of the fish with plenty of cold water.
Descaling is the next step in the process. Remove each scale by scraping a knife across them, against their natural grain. This will involve you starting at the tail of the fish and scraping along to the head. Do not carry out the stage if you are planning to fillet the fish and remove its skin, as it makes that process much harder.
Next, starting at the head of the fish cut it in half from head to tail. Remove the backbone (this may be a somewhat painstaking process) and cut off the head. Using fishbone tweezers, de-bone the fish working in a diagonal fashion from the head down. Do not remove the tail.
Finally, remove the skin by slicing between it and the fillets with a sharp knife. Pinch the skin of the tail between your forefinger and thumb and cut away from you. If you have left the scales on the skin should come away with relative ease. Do not discard it, as it can be used in a number of soups and other seafood recipes.
All that is left to do is season and cook your fish! Find out what seasoning, garnishes and sides match your catch and serve accordingly!