21 Mar2011

Something’s Fishy…

by Marketman

We were having some foodie guests over for dinner, and one of the dishes was a really fresh kinilaw na tanguigue or ceviche of spanish mackerel. The last time we served this for a crowd (a Marketmanila eyeball), we placed it in a massive “ice bowl” that looked pretty cool, but also kept the kinilaw literally cool as well. So I was trying to come up with new serving ideas and came up with a slightly harebrained idea… This isn’t some magician’s illusion in the photo above, it’s actually the head and tail of a tanguigue that have been frozen into a tray of ice. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it early enough so it didn’t solidify in time for the dinner party, but the next morning, I took it out of the chest freezer to take these photos…

The idea seemed simple enough. Cut off the head of the tangigue at an angle, and do the same with the tail. Place the head and tail in a tray of water and prop the parts up so that they appear to be partially out of the water. We taped the pieces to the side of the pan, then placed the whole pan in the freezer. It took about 8-10 hours to freeze the water completely. Take the pan out, remove the ice sheet with fish carefully, lay on a serving vessel of some sort, wipe the fish a bit as it thaws so it looks even fresher, and place a glass bowl of kinilaw in the space between the head and tail, literally resting on the ice. The idea was to be rather graphic/literal about the dish, and there was no doubt about the main ingredient and where it came from…

But things never work out that easily. First, the cut head kept bleeding. No matter how much we washed it, it was a bleeder. So we tried to freeze the head first, to stem the bleeding. An hour later, we assembled the ice sculpture? vignette? and placed everything in the freezer. It isn’t so easy to get the tray level when there are other things in the chest freezer, so it actually froze a little cockeyed. Not bad from a visual perspective as it looks like the fish is in actual sea water or a wave, but this slanted ice meant a bowl would simply slide off rather than hold its place. :) And finally, the darned head still leeched out blood and stained the bed of ice a bit, making this more like a slightly gory scene of OMG the sharked chomped on the mackerel in open water, leaving a clean cut at head and tail and bloodied waters… Hahaha. But you get the idea. A few adjustments and this could definitely make it to a Marketman buffet spread in future. I also like the idea of making larger sculptures or blocks of ice with small whole fish frozen into the ice block. It would make a great base for serving an abundance of steamed and chilled seafood in a French sort of “fruits de la Mer platter” kind of way…

And finally, before someone fires off a comment about frivolity and waste of good food, the head and tail were thawed the and used in a perfectly delicious tinowa or Visayan soup with fish and vegetables. So ultimately, nothing went to waste. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    LOVE THE IDEA!!!

    …..Huh? What am I doing in China? I think I got out on the wrong side of my bed! hahahaha

    Mar 21, 2011 | 5:49 am

     
  2. bearhug0127 says:

    The first photo is picture perfect! Another original/creative idea from MM! The kinilaw would be more yummy I suppose?

    Mar 21, 2011 | 7:07 am

     
  3. kitchen says:

    Cool!

    Mar 21, 2011 | 7:12 am

     
  4. Clarissa says:

    Totally cool idea :) I wish i thought of it first. Maybe partially grilling or oil-less pan frying the head would clot the blood. Not enough to cook it, just enough to seal whatever was bleeding? i would have suggested freezing it too, but then dunking it in water may have thawed out the blood :)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 8:06 am

     
  5. Maricel says:

    MM, try sitting a bowl of hot water in the ice for a while just until there is enough of an indentation to hold the bowl of kinilaw.

    Mar 21, 2011 | 8:14 am

     
  6. daryl says:

    searing the head a little bit would probably stop the bleeding. i don’t know if this is going to work for fish, and i’m sure you know this already, but some photographers sprinkle a few drops of water on their vegetables to make them look fresh.

    Mar 21, 2011 | 8:46 am

     
  7. Tricia says:

    how about wrapping with cling wrap the cut size of the head?

    Mar 21, 2011 | 9:12 am

     
  8. mojito drinker says:

    nice :)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 9:45 am

     
  9. isabel says:

    That actually looks really really cool! Maybe you could even serve sushi on it. What a novel serving idea :)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 10:47 am

     
  10. bagito says:

    That is one heck of a fresh-looking fish, MM!

    Mar 21, 2011 | 11:03 am

     
  11. Eden says:

    What a cool idea!!!

    Mar 21, 2011 | 11:49 am

     
  12. nina says:

    really cool idea!

    MM, any idea where i can find online sort of a visual dictionary of fish with english and vernacular names? I’m in Brunei and whenever i go to the fish market i get all confused which fish is which… I end up buying shrimp for fear of getting a fish that does not go well with a dish. Thanks!

    Mar 21, 2011 | 2:44 pm

     
  13. Vanessa says:

    This is neat and clever, Marketman. Perhaps the next attempt for a murder-mystery dinner you’re hosting?

    Mar 21, 2011 | 5:33 pm

     
  14. jdc8888 says:

    it is something like the Modernist Cuisine Cookbook style photo…

    Mar 21, 2011 | 5:41 pm

     
  15. joey says:

    very nice… very japanese in concept :-)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 6:11 pm

     
  16. tonceq says:

    hmmm… maybe you could freeze the parts first before assembling them in the water/tray to stop the bleeding? haha, Joey is right! This very Japanese is concept though I have heard of some gruesome preparations where the fish is cut up while still alive and served with (it’s own) innards (sashimi) as it watches the patrons dine and enjoy at it’s own stake! scary!

    PS. Mr. Artisan Chocolatier, I probably travel to the U.S. everytime I comment in MM’s blog! the computer your using might probably have a Chinese proxy or your internet service’s server might be based in China! :)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 9:15 pm

     
  17. Me says:

    This would disgust most foreigners to honest. A fish head gawking at them is not exactly their idea of aesthetic.

    Mar 22, 2011 | 3:46 am

     
  18. robin says:

    there’s a sculpture of the same concept – head and tail of fish out of the water – somewhere in jeddah’s corniche

    Mar 22, 2011 | 5:48 am

     
  19. nina says:

    looks slightly sinister, like the fish had dealings gone wrong with the sea mafia!

    Mar 22, 2011 | 8:02 am

     
  20. Becky says:

    i think this is when a bottle of liquid nitrogen would come in handy. hehe

    Mar 22, 2011 | 9:25 am

     
  21. edel says:

    i love the first photo.. reminds me of an alfred hitchcock film except that its fish— not birds! :D

    Mar 24, 2011 | 10:00 pm

     
  22. epl says:

    soaking the fish head in water would take a lot (if not all) of the blood out, but you need to soak it for at least a day or two.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 3:07 am

     
  23. goyo says:

    Would the letting of blood by the head be solved a soaking in a lightly salted cold water bath for a short period of time then rinsed thoroughly and then slightly frozen before putting in the base water?

    Mar 27, 2011 | 12:18 pm

     
 

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