in culinary school, they teach you first how to medium dice potatoes. then, they teach you consomme.
chef mike taught us with chicken. "why should you know how to make a consomme?" he asked, "you're not likely to ever make one again. no one puts them on menus anymore. but if you can make a consomme, it shows you can have patience. you can follow instructions. you can know what your ingredients need."
i like this recipe because, while it's not fast, it teaches a lot of method. here you cover how to make a stock (in this case, a fumet), how to clarify a stock with a consomme, and how to blanch and shock for color fixing.
consomme is a clarified broth, one that should be so clear, "you can read the date on a dime at the bottom of a gallon". the clarifying action of the raft is formed by the coagulation of the egg whites and the acid. while tomato is traditional in a chicken or beef consomme, here we're going to use lemon.
1 fl oz canola oil
5 lbs fish bones (preferably white fish)
4 oz yellow onion, diced
4 oz celery, diced
4 oz leeks, diced
1 qt water
2 cups white wine
sprig of parsley
sprig of thyme
5-6 whole black peppercorns
heat the oil in a large stockpot over med heat. add bones and vegetables, stirring constantly so no browning occurs. you're looking to sweat the vegetables, stir until they begin to soften and release fluid. add the water, wine, herbs, and pepper. bring to a simmer. simmer for 35-40 minutes, skimming the surface of the stock often throughout. strain. cool (the fastest way to do this is to fill a bowl with ice and set the fumet in a separate bowl over it).
1 oz lemon juice
1 qt fish fumet
2 egg whites, whisked until frothy
8 oz shredded white fish (or other fish protein)
2 oz white onion, minced
1 oz carrot, minced
1 oz celery, minced
whisk egg whites until frothy (see photo below). fold in chopped mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion), shredded fish, and lemon juice. place in the bottom of a medium saucepot and add cold fish fumet. heat on high while stirring constantly until the raft floats. gently poke a hole (chimney) in the center of the raft. reduce to a very mild, gentle simmer and walk away, don't disturb the raft or it will break and destroy the consomme process. do not allow to boil. occasionally, with a small ladle, baste the top of the raft with fumet from the chimney. simmer about 60 minutes or until tested liquid is perfectly clear. remove from heat. very gently (don't break the raft!) press the raft down to the bottom of the pan with a large spoon or tool, either ladle or pour fumet into a container. pass through cheesecloth, chinois, or tamis. chill.
8 oz langoustine or shrimp
1 cup butter, in chunks
1 oz water
salt to taste
1/4 cup leeks, diced
1/4 cup fiddlehead ferns
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 oz canola oil
in a small saucepot, bring the water to boil. reduce to medium, medium-low. whisk in the chunk butter to emulsify the water and butter together (technically, this is called a buerre monte - thomas keller considers it his 'workhorse sauce' and for good reason - it's amazing for infusing seafood with gentle, sweet flavor and keeping a silky texture). add langoustine or shrimp and cook until fully opaque. remove and blot.
heat a small saute pan on med-high. add oil. wait until oil is hot. add ferns, cook until gently wilted, about 1-2 minutes. add leek and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and soft. do not allow to brown. add baby spinach and wilt for 1 minute. remove from heat and blot.
in the center of a bowl, place a mound of the leek & bok choy mixture. place 3-4 langoustine tails or 2-3 shrimp on top of mixture. ladle chilled consomme around. garnish as desired. serve.