I got invited by my American friend Jeff to cook a dinner at his rented Air B&B holiday houseboat during his Amsterdam stay. Jeff came to Europe to get married to Melanie in Vienna. But that's a whole other story, let's get down to cooking the menu on the houseboat of Jeff. He introduced me to Rodney. Now Rodney is not your average guy from down the road. Rodney is your "if only" neighbour from down the road. I totally understand why his wife Lisa fell for him. Appart from great looks, beaming smile, an endless stream of a-ma-zing anecdotes, Mr R has a specific cooking skill that you are looking for in a Sous chef. He probably does not know himself that he has it. the one skill you are looking for in a Sous chef is "interest and eagerness" Don't muddle it up with " I know it all and I'll fix it just fine" As a sous chef you have to know by heart what the chef wants, you have to feel it, taste it before the menu is cooked. In short, you need interest and eagerness.
Jeff proposed that Rodney would step up as my sous for the evening. And o boy was I already happy after 5 minutes. The first thing I do when cheffing on location, is preparing my dishes and ingredients in order of the menu. What you call " Mis-en-place. or m.e.p. Before I finished this, he already took up organising his part of the kitchen and was whisking away at the Sauce Hollandaise I asked him to prepare. I knew then: "it's going to be a fine and fun evening"
The menu consisted of a long list of great dishes. The Vitello Sgrombo was the second starter ( yes we had 2)
Vitello Sgrombo is incredibly starter. Instead of the tuna, we use smoked mackerel for the mayonnaise sauce. Mackerel itself is a fatty fish. Fat is a perfect taste carrier. As a result, the taste experience of mayonnaise with smoked tuna is significantly more intense than the version with the usual dry canned tuna.
For 7 people
7 green asparagus
2 or 3 slices of Swordfish carpaccio per person
Crab meat of the knuckles (whole pieces please)
For the mackerel sauce
Juice of 1lemon
200 grams of smoked mackerel
14 Apple capers
Take the green asparagus between your fingers from both hands and bend them until they snap. Now you have asparagus of different lengths. Lay them side by side with the heads evenly and cut them until you have asparagus of one length. Blanch them briefly so that they stay crisp. Cool them down immediately by immersing them in ice cold water. Let them drip dry and put them on a towel to dry completely.
Never forget to have a little drink on the side. Cooking is hard work. Water or (in this case) a glass of dry white wine will always make me happy. Here I am toasting with my Sous of the day Rodney Rodriguez. Great man, good fun, fantastic Saucier
Blanch the peas and the green beans in lightly salted water. Make sure you do not boil them to mush and that you immediately cool them off out of the boiling water in ice cold water. Take your time for this. You want to present a plate with bright green peas and broad beans on your prepared plate as a contrast with the white swordfish and pink crab. Let them drain well and let them dry on a towel. (nothing worse than a watery mess on your beautiful well presented plate.
Put the smoked mackerel in a blender or bowl and mix together with a bit olive oil with a hand blender or blender into a nice sauce. Season with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. Put in a piping bag and place in the refrigerator.
Let the apple capers drain and cut a thin slice from the bottom so that you can put them slightly leaning towards one side on the plate.
DRESSING YOUR PLATE
Now using the piping bag put a nice broad line of mackerel mayonnaise over your plate. Divide the green asparagus, the swordfish slices and the crab legs over the strip of the mayonnaise. Decorate the rest of the plate with the peas and broad beans.