Thursday, September 16, 2010

Squid Ink Pasta with Crawfish and Garlic Ginger Velouté

Squid Ink Pasta and Crawfish Velouté

About three weeks ago I went to this place with Quentin and his Dad called Metro. It's similar to Sam's or Costco in America; a gigantic warehouse-type building with everything you might need... in bulk. I of course, felt right at home, since everything was "American-sized". Big jars of mayonnaise, ketchup... an enormous food section(almost 5 times the size of the one's at Sam's) and of course, laptops for half the price you would pay in the normal electronics store. Quentin was there to find a laptop, so he could use it to look for jobs and apartments since I needed my laptop for work... his dad wanted to take a look at the projectors, and I, of course, wanted to look at the food/kitchen stuff.

It's too bad that this place is only allowed to business owners, because they would make a lot of money off of me. Their kitchen section had a lot of professional kitchen equipment that made me wish I had my own restaurant... sous-vide machines, crêpieres, induction cook-tops... sigh. I spent about 15 minutes daydreaming on my perfect kitchen and then moseyed on over to the food section. 

The food section in this place makes my eyes glaze over. Now, yes, when it comes to "quality vs. quantity" you would think this place would lean more toward the latter, but the only things that stood out to me as being less than worthy were a few batches of barely ripe tomatoes and some packaged frozen foods. They have a great produce section, with just about anything you might need, a meat section that is so cold you may just come out of there with frostbite if you're not wearing the right clothes, and a dry goods area that has some pretty interesting finds.

One of those interesting finds happened to be the squid ink pasta I stumbled upon while looking at the price of quinoa. I had never tried squid ink pasta before, but was always curious about it. Luckily, it wasn't one of those items you had to buy in 50 pound bags, so I picked up a single package and took it home to give it a test run. 

Quentin's dad also picked up a small bucket of crawfish tails, écrevisse, from Metro and I thought they would make a good accompaniment to the pasta.

Mise en Place

I've tested this dish two similar ways already... The first dish didn't photograph as well as I thought it would, so I wanted to test another way to see if I could make the dish better tastefully and aesthetically. My inspiration for the second dish came from a cooking lesson I watched on Rouxbe, the world's first-ever online cooking school. I came across this site from a fellow food blogger, and after browsing through a few videos using their 7-day trial, I went ahead and purchased the lifetime membership!

Note: I am a Rouxbe Cooking School affiliate partner. As part of their affiliate program, I have the power to give you a free, full-access, no-videos-barred, 14-day pass to their site. All you have to do is go to the Rouxbe Online Cooking School and redeem the 14-day Gift Membership. After the trial, you can join for as little as $15 per month; however, there is no obligation. This site is unlike any other cooking site I've seen. It gives you clear, step-by-step demonstrations as you would receive in a cooking class. I've already learned so much, and hope to improve my cooking skills via Rouxbe. It's awesome! Check it out!

So as I was browsing through videos I watched their lesson on velouté, one of the 5 mother sauces made from combining stock with a roux. 

After watching it, I adapted it to my recipe.

Squid Ink Pasta with Crawfish and Garlic Ginger Velouté

500g squid ink spaghetti pasta
1 cup of crawfish tails (you can substitute with small shrimp)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of fish stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
white pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
1 bunch of fresh chives

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.

To start the velouté, first melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger to the butter and sauté until the shallots have softened and become translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Then add the flour and whisk until fully incorporated. Cook the flour/butter mixture (roux) until it just starts to change color.

Slowly add the vegetable/fish stock, a little bit at a time. Whisk and let it come back to a gentle boil each time before adding more stock. Add the stock until you reach a silky-smooth consistency. Strain through a sieve or mesh strainer to remove the garlic, shallots, and ginger pieces and any remaining lumps. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Note: The sauce may thicken slightly as it cools, so if you’re not planning to use it right away, you may need to loosen it up with a bit more hot stock before using.

If your crawfish tails are cold, you can place them in a strainer and dunk into the hot pasta water for about 15-30 seconds. Just be sure that if they are pre-cooked crawfish tails, that you do not overcook them when re-heating them.

Drain pasta in a colander. In a large bowl, add the pasta, crawfish tails, and sauce, and toss to combine. Top with freshly chopped chives. Alternatively, you can plate these individually as shown in the picture above. Serves 4.

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