Seafood is one of those delicious things that’s tricky to do to a high standard at home, so attending Brasserie de Luxe’s seafood masterclass can provide some helpful hints and tips. Perhaps some people would prefer it to be hands-on, but it was my kind of learning: observational rather than involved; more of a luxury than a chore. I happily sipped the delightful (and plentiful) house champagne whilst watching head chef Fraser Allen demonstrate his rich experience with seafood. Like a culinary ninja, he skilfully wielded knives at the most beautiful array of crustaceans; their shells deep autumnal reds, oranges and pinks.
Fraser deftly demonstrated slipping the point of his shucking blade into the weak hinge of the oyster, working it around the edges in a zigzag motion before loosening the flesh from its joint once the shell was open. Shucking tools are just £20 and are worth the investment to protect your regular knives as well as your oysters. Fraser was adamant that “good oysters require no seasoning.” These ones certainly didn’t.
He also spoke of preserving the “dignity of the body” when he showed us how to humanely kill a brown crab and a lobster, with a firm thump from the point of a knife into the brain and then slicing down the middle. The demonstration crustaceans were already dead, but this is still not for the faint hearted. The prepping seemed like the hardest part; cooking 500g of crab simply involved gentle boiling for 12 minutes, with a further minute added for every extra 100g.
Fraser’s advice was given in the form of a dialogue, so there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions. Afterwards, seated at a long dining table like seafood disciples, we sampled fantastic lobster, brown crab, Cumbrean oysters, langostines, scallops and mussels. Their flesh was soft and naturally flavourful, having only been boiled in seawater – Fraser’s recommended method. The only thing that hadn’t been boiled was the equally wonderful scallop ceviche, with red onion, coriander, chilli, lime juice and zest. Punchy, zingy and with a very pleasant texture, it took just two hours languishing in its dressing to produce such a satisfying dish.
The masterclass was a great evening’s activity and I’d highly recommend it for a special occasion treat. Keep an eye out for the next seafood masterclass on Brasserie de Luxe’s website or book one of the other upcoming classes, such as wine and cheese pairing. Going by my experience, they’ll be great fun and of a very high standard.
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH1 2AB
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