There was a real mix of people there – equally split between men and women. They were mostly locals, but others had travelled from as far as Manchester to attend. There was a mix of skills, with some never having cooked fish before, and others that were there to refine previously learnt skills. Some had been gifted vouchers, and others thought it was a good way to spend a day with a visitor.The day started with tea or coffee while some demonstrations took place. These consisted of showing how to make fish stock, prepare and simply cook expensive ingredients like lobster, crab, and langoustines, but also explaining the methods used in some of the things that we were about to cook ourselves. This session concluded with a tasting of a garlic and lemon scallop each. The school gets all its fish from our favourite fishmonger, Eddie’s Seafood Market located just off the Meadows.
Then it was upstairs to the kitchen to start preparation. After a short safety and hygiene briefing we selected our workstations, and we were off filleting a mackerel (after suitable instruction). This was really quite straightforward, and not at all intimidating. We put the mackerel to one side while we made up a new potato salad with lemon. The our next practical skill was the cleaning and preparation of squid. With one of the School cooks close by, any difficulties or questions were quickly resolved. Everyone coped with this slippery customer very well.
To one side there was the opportunity to open and taste oysters while other things were going on. Next was instruction on Moules Marinieres. We all cooked a batch each, which was to form a part of our lunch. There was the option then to char grill the mackerel for lunch as well (or to take it home). While we were busy cooking, the school fairies were completing the preparation of the crab which went with grapefruit and avocado; the langoustines, and the lobster which were all on the table for lunch. A great spread washed down with a glass (or two) of wine in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere, followed by coffee or tea.
Then it was back to the kitchen to cook risotto nero. Although not complicated, the stirring takes quite a bit of time. We only part cooked this so that it could be finished off at home, to accompany the squid we had prepared earlier. There was also the option of cooking salmon. Whether cooked or not, this was also to take home along with a salsa verde that we had prepared.
Given the quantity of fish to take home, bringing a good selection of plastic containers was essential.
A very enjoyable day picking up practical skills and tips in a relaxed and friendly environment. Thanks especially to Jess for showing us all the techniques.
Find out More
There’s a huge range of one day and longer courses to choose from, for all abilities, including Patisserie, Game, French and Thai cuisine over the next couple of months. With Christmas coming up, there are some very useful courses, such as knife skills, Christmas baking and two workshops for children. The next Saturday fish workshop is in March 2015.
Edinburgh New Town Cookery School
7 Queen Street
Tel: 0131 226 4314
Edinburgh New Town Cookery School on TwitterGraham attended the class at the invitation of the school.