*Drool* *slobber* *groan* *hmmmm ummm hmmm*
So good, oh so so good. I've wanted to cook with the sous vide method for a while now. A couple of things have been stopping me, firstly I don't have a vacuum sealer, and secondly I don't own a water bath. Double nuts! So when I saw this recipe which took into account that the everyday cook lacks both of these implements, I jumped at the chance to try it. Yes, sous vide is a method of cooking something for an extremely long time, so this recipe doesn't quite cut it, but for my purposes, its close enough! Baby steps right?
I was really impressed at how moreish this dish really was. The fish was so juicy and packed full of flavor and the way the fish was cooked meant that the flesh kept all of its original colour. The pearl couscous, oh my god that couscous. I want to make it every night of my life. I LOVED it. I never thought I could cook something in my own home that tasted of that caliber. The creamy gooey texture of the cheese, the slightly crunchiness of the zucchini and the popping like texture of the couscous, this dish was MADE for me. Its so simple, but yet so delicious.
Only one little problem with it, IT STINKS!! yep it smells like rotten old feet. If you have an issue with smelly cheese, substitute the fontina, but if you're like me and think the smellier the cheese the better, stack in extra!!
The smelly culprit!
There were a couple of errors that I made which I think worked out for the best. First of all. I forgot the chilli. Yep, how freakin stupid am I! I had already decided that I would leave out the bottarga, I'm a little poor at the moment and couldn't bring myself to buy this stuff for one dish. And the last and most fatal error, I used non-salt reduced chicken stock, so my couscous come out on the salty side. Well probably not so salty to a normal person, but I tend to not eat that much salt (something to do with Daz dying before I have a good go at torturing him with my stupid jokes). It was perfect with the fish, and the extra flavour from the stock was well worth the increased salt level. I could imagine that the bottarga would add a fair amount of salt to the dish anyway, so I'm extra glad I left it out.
Size really does matter right? especially when your sitting next to your pewny competitor!
Hey, it is exactly like a risotto, in it goes with a little oil to toast....ahh so easy!
Its actually really simple to cook this entire dish. As long as you have everything prepared and ready to go. The couscous is extremely straight forward, really no more difficult than a simple risotto. The tricky part was keeping the temperature of the water for the fish bang on 48C.
I had my trusty candy thermometer, I was fresh out of "ocean trout poaching thermometers" so resorted to what I had handy. I decided that 50C was close enough to 48C and if I could keep it there I would be pretty happy with myself.
It was a bit of juggling. I heated my water to 50C, dropped my fish in...trying to keep it as flat as possible (its all about presentation!) and watched the thermometer. As soon as it started to drop I would put the pan on the gas for a few seconds. I continued to do that for the entire cooking time. I actually poached it for longer than the recommended 15 minutes, closer to 20 actually. It resulted in fish that was a little rarer than my liking, but I've always been a fan of sashimi. Daz on the other hand was feeling a little sick after eating some half cooked fish fat, so decided to microwave his for 20 seconds and ended up with PERFECT fish. Who would have thought. So I would recommend either having smaller portions or cooking it for a little longer.
Overall, this dish was STELLA! Daz doesn't really like fish (poor boy is stuck with a seafood lover) and after eating this dish he suggested we should start buying more fish. Hallelujah! I knew if I persisted I would make him turn! Now, if only I could convince him on black pudding.