Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27th - Jamaican Salt Cod Soufflé

Jamaican Salt Cod Soufflé
I found a piece of Salt Cod in my cheese drawer on Sunday and fancied using it but did not have any Ackee stashed away in the house and did not feel like deep frying any fritters or the sort.  It wasn't big enough to make a main out of, on its own.  D suggested I do my Carribean Souffle that I make with Crab and other Seafood. I thought, well, if I'm going to use Salt Cod I should put more of a Jamaican flare on the flavours and spices. It was fabulous.  I only used 1/4 a Habanero but I think I could have used a 1/2.  D thought it was enough because Souffles shouldn't be spicy but I countered that it was more Jamaican than Souffle :^P

You may be tempted to disregard my warnings about not adding any additional Salt but please heed.  Salt Cod is Salty even after thorough desalination.  Leave the salt on the table if you must.  Souffles can be daunting and not because of the cartoon deflating images of our youth but because of all the steps.  Silly me, I added a few more by choosing to do Salt Cod.  But if you stay organised, you can come out of it with a great Souffle and just a few bowls in the sink.

Jamaican Salt Cod Souffle 

200-250 g Salt Cod
1/4 t Allspice
1/4 t Dry Thyme
1/4 t dry Tarragon
1/4 t ground Ginger
1/2 t Curry Powder
1/4 t dry Parsley
1/8 t freshly grated Nutmeg
1/8 or less freshly grated Mace (a few passes only)
Black Pepper
2-3 T freshParsley, chopped
1 T fresh Thyme, leaves (if you do make anything Jamaican, and you don't want to buy a bunch of different fresh herbs, PLEASE, make the one you buy, Thyme. Ex Jamaican roomie always insisted on fresh Thyme)
2 T fresh Chives, chopped
1 rib Celery, finely diced
1 Serrano, seeded and minced (optional, these were quite mild)
1/4 - 1/2 Habanero aka Scotch Bonnet Pepper, seeded and minced
2-3 Spring Onions
4 large Egg Yolks
6 large Egg Whites
1 t Lemon Juice, or Cream of Tartar
4 T Unsalted Butter
1/4 c Flour
1 c Milk
1/2 c Toasted Coconut Flakes
Black Pepper
NO added Salt!

24 Hours ahead: soak your Salt Cod in a large bowl of cool Water.  Change every few hours and leave in refridgerator over night.  Change again the next day a few times.

1 Hour or more ahead: butter a large souffle dish.  Use either the wrapper from the butter or parchment paper. If you don't want to muss with that.  Melt 2 T of Butter in the microwave and use a silicon brush.  Get in all the corners and on the sides, brush upwards to the rim from the bottom. Refridgerate until you start to cook. Then let it sit on the counter. 

In a shallow sauce pan, place the drained piece of Salt Cod and cover with water.  Bring to an active simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain and cool.  When cool to the touch, flake into pieces and set aside.

In a dry non stick pan, toast your unsweetened Coconut flakes until lightly toasted.  Remove from heat and set aside. In a pinch, you don't have to toast the Coconut but it does add a nice nuttiness if you do.

Hour to half hour ahead: take your eggs out of the fridge and let sit on the counter.  My experience has been that cooking with cold Eggs, even simple poaching, interferes with the desired result as you try to bring the Eggs to temp. If you don't have the extra time, let them sit in a bowl of warm (not hot) water until needed.  As well, measure out your Milk and let stand at room temperature too.

Spices: I like to assemble the dry spices in a dish like this first.  I like to clean as I go and the clutter of all the bottles drives me bonkers and you're less likely to forget 1.  So in a small bowl, measure out all the dry  Spices and set aside. Mace is the alien like hand that is wrapped around a piece of fresh Nutmeg.  If you don't have it, leave it out.

Aromatics: I like to places the aromatics that will cook the longest together to the ones that will cook the least in that order on the cutting board, chopped.  Celery, picked Thyme (discard stems) and Chilis will go first and leafies like, Parsley will go in last. 

Eggs:  Have your stand mixer at the ready with a VERY clean bowl.  Have two bowls handy.  A larger one, that you might have had them sitting in and a small clean bowl.   Crack each egg and separate out the White into the small bowl.  Make sure no Yolk is in it and then add to your Mixer bowl. If a Yolk breaks in to the White, do not put it in the mixing bowl.  You can cook something else with it.  As well, replace the sequestering (small) bowl with a clean one.  Do this with each Egg.  Placing the Yolk into the larger or other bowl.  You will need two less Yolks so I plop two into the smaller bowl at the end and cover with plastic and place in the fridge.  Add a few drops of Lemon Juice to the whites and leave there.   The Lemon Juice's acidity is meant to help them keep their lift.  You can use Cream of Tartar powder (not the pickle sauce!) as a substitute if you don't want to waste a whole Lemon.

Preheat the oven to 410 with the rack on the lowest level.

In a large sauce pan, melt the Butter on Medium heat.  Add the Celery, Spring Onion Whites, Thyme, Serrano and Habanero.  Sautee for 5-10 minutes until softened and the Butter looks clear.  Add the Spices and sautee for a few more minutes.  I stir this whole time with a small whisk.  Everything is chopped small enough that nothing gets caught.
Add the flour.  Whisk to combine.  You want to cook but not burn the Flour so watch your heat.  Cook, whisking regularly for 10 minutes.  Add the leafier stuff: Chives, Spring Onion Greens and Parsley.  Keep moving for a few more minutes.  Add some Black Pepper to your taste.

Add the Milk slowly.  Whisk constantly.  It will gloop up at the beginning but just keep it moving.  At the end it will seem to runny but turn the heat up.   It needs to come to a boil.  When it does, turn down immediately to the lowest heat... or turn off if your burner keeps hot a long time.  Whisk and whisk until you have the consistency of pancake batter.

Turn off the heat but keep on the burner.  Add the Yolks 1 at a time until completely incorporated.  Then add the Coconut Flakes, whisk thoroughly.  Remove from heat.  Then gently fold in the Salt Cod.  Don't use the whisk or you may disintegrate the Fish into catfood.  Set aside to cool.  If you want, you can set aside in a very large mixing bowl.  I just place the pot in a rack/trivet to cool down the mixture and pot. 

Whisk your Egg Whites on high until you get stiff peaks.  That means you could turn the bowl over and it will keep together or you turn the head of your mixer back and the little fluff on the beater will stand up well.  Do not over beat or they get 'dry'.  That means they start to look like and actly styrofoam.

Take a large rubber Spatula.  Take a big scoop, about 1/4 of the foam and mix vigorously into the Yolk mixture.  Don't be gentle here.  You're just lightning the custard.  Then add the rest in batches but gently folding.  Meaning, place the Foam in then cut down the middle, scoop down the bottom and up the side and turn over, turn 90 degrees (1/4 turn) and cut, scoop and turn again until the Whites are 'mostly incorporated'.  Don't worry about white patches.  Repeat until all the Whites are in.

Pour into your buttered Souffle dish.  Clean the rim with your thumb.

Place the filled dish into the oven at the back as fast as you can. The oven can lose 20-40 degrees while you fuss about with the door open.  Now turn down the oven to 400.

30 Minutes is all it will take for it to puff up and brown.  It may jiggle a bit but that's okay.  If it is very wobbly when you cut into it, bake another 10 but for the Cheese free souffles, I normally don't have this issue.  Very YUMMO!

Jamaican Salt Cod Soufflé sliced


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