Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The Citrus Reigns Supreme
Sigh...I'm reaching, I know.
Today's class was worth the price of admission or at least tuition for this quarter, because we learned how to make citrus segments, or supremes in "chef speak." Supremes are the segements of oranges and grapefruits that are free of that nasty white pith and lie jewel-like on the plate.
I have struggled and struggled, cursing and moaning the whole time, trying to figure out how to do this, and why the hell I never Googled it before I started this blog entry, I have no idea. Because, if I had, I would have found this lovely little step-by-step set of instructions from the fine folks at Sunkist. (Smacks hand into forehead, then pokes finger in eye.)
Basically, you cut the top and bottom off your orange or grapefruit, and then take your paring knife and cut away all the outer peel/rind of the fruit. You could zest the orange first and save the zest in the freezer for later. After you have removed the pith and peel, working over a bowl, hold the fruit in the palm of your left hand (adjust if you are a Lefty), and carefully cut the segments out. Do sort of a "V" around the segment and just push it into a bowl. Let's borrow a nice illustration from the Sunkist site for demonstration purposes.
If I had found that website sooner, we could have all been saved a lot of grief, my feet, some tuition money, and I would not have embarked on this whole culinary school roller coaster of insanity.
Here's a better picture that I swiped from somewhere else:
It gives more detail and a better idea (than the line drawing) of where you are supposed to cut.
After you have removed all the segments from the fruit, squeeze the remaining fruit over the bowl; the juices help preserve the segments. That's it. Period. No big mystery there, now is there?
Chef demoed quite a few fruit cuts and assembled a simple fruit display. The coolest thing were the papaya crowns. He did those as garnish, and they looked really neat. If you check out this site, there are more elaborate crowns, and a nifty tutorial on making them and little vegetable cups.
(Where the hell have I been, and why have I not been Googling this stuff all along??)
While we're on the subject, let's talk about papayas. Hate them. Plain and simple. They taste kind of like soap to me...sometimes like kerosene, or what I imaging kerosene to taste like if I were to drink kerosene. (But, I'm not quite there yet!) I know, I know, it's weird. The first time I was presented with fresh papaya, I was excited, because it was a new and different tropical fruit. I eagerly put some on my plate and got ready to be transported to a tropical paradise complete with hot young Antonio Banderas-looking cabana boys and drinks with umbrellas. I'm sure if anyone had actually been looking at me when I ate the first bite, all thoughts of cabana boys and paradise would have flown straight out the window. Ick! I thought, this is bad, very bad. Maybe it wasn't quite ripe, I think to myself, so I get another piece to try. Urk...even worse than the first one. I've tried it again and again, even once more today, and I still think it tastes waaaaaay bad. Way bad. Maybe, I'm just not wired right to appreciate that little bit of tropical paradise...but I can still appreciate the cabana boys.
Another fruit we discussed today was the star fruit or carambola...sometimes called "Chinese tamarind," according to the Chiclet, or at least in her home country. Personally, I've never been that impressed with the flavor of the star fruit, but it does look pretty and is sort of a built-in garnish. I always thought they came from far away, which was why they're so expensive, and that might account for the lack of flavor, i.e., picked before ripened, etc., but no, they're now grown commercially in Florida. So, why the heck are they so expensive, then? It's not like Florida is half a hemisphere away or anything, like Sri Lanka is, where they are also grown. I guess exotic = expensive...which is probably why I would never make it on the exotic dance circuit...unless maybe I covered myself in star fruit slices, orange segments, and worn a papaya crown?
It seemed to work for this woman.
"Oh, cabana boy!"