Daurade Crécy Farci aux Crevettes “Belle Vue”
With the world fisheries only a few months away from complete collapse, leaving little more than mermaid, pibales, smelts, carp, whales and their disturbingly delusional, inept sea hazard followers (the motorboating waterworld brothers in arms of Jesus’s loony station-wagon & bumper sticker worshippers), a lone, local, probably not sustainable porgy sea bream, some chemically preserved shrimp and industrial feedlot beef bones were purchased from the local neighborhood latino grocer for US$40, upon which US$33.72 in change was received.
Aspic. Epicurean bling of 19th bourgeois cuisine, the first recorded recipe of which is found in Taillevent’s premier and illuminating cookbook Le Viandier:
Gelée de poison qui porte limon, ou de char. Metez cuire, en vin et en verjus et vin aigre, un pou de pain qui veut ; prenez gingenbre, canelle, girofle, grene de paradis, poivre long, noys muguetez, saffren, cilion folion ; broiez et le liés en ung blanc drapel, et metez boullir avec vostre poisson ou char, et lez cuvrez tourjours jusques a ce qu’il soit drecié ; quant il sera cuit, metez vostre grain refroidir sur une nappe : ce c’est poison, le peler et nestoier, et getez lez peleurez ou boillon, sans le troble ; et ne fault pas attendre qu’il soit froit a le couler ; metez vostre grain par escuellez, remetez vostre boillon ; en boullant, escumez tourjours ; dreciez sur vostre grain, et poudrez dessus vos escuellez en lieu froit, fleur de canelle et massis
Presumably from the Greek aspis which means buckler or shield and not the serpent “asp” aspic is the clarified result of the coagulated collagen and gelatin naturally found in protein. Aspic forefather molds were in the shape of shields, though others are alleged to have represented the shape of a coiled snake, likely to justify the snaky etymology. Crécy, classical French culinary descriptor suggesting carrots as well as the northern French city, site of one of the most important battles in the Hundred Years’ War which may have suggested the end of chivalry what with the combination of new weapons, tactics and bloodshed…chivalry also clings to integrity during the 111th congress’s suffocation at the hands of GOP tantrums. Belle Vue is likely an Escoffier-ish appellation, perhaps meaning nothing more than “a lovely sight”, even better when someone brings lobster and truffles to the party.
Aspic and it’s perverted, sweetened, über kitschy derivatives would later be used by psychedelically depressed housewives to accentuate iceberg lettuce, lime, canned tuna and other shit so that their kids and husbands wouldn’t go Manson on them.
In this pelagic aspic demonstration, the slippery un-gutted Jesus symbol was scaled, the fins and gills snipped, the spine & pinbones skillfully removed from the back porte-feuille style and thoroughly cleaned.
The forcemeat consisted of ground shrimp, some of the cats’ half & half, citrus zest, red onion brunois, dried chili, my diced lardo and salt. The forcemeat was piped into the cavity and spread evenly. A smiling court-bouillon was prepared, the fish delicately tied and then slow poached until the forcemeat was probably cooked judging by touch and what the fastidious French call “Le Feeling”.
The fish was left to cool a bit in the liquid, removed, then left to cool further covered in plastic wrap. Meanwhile, split beef knuckle bones were blanched and simmered overnight with nary a garnish. The resulting stock was reduced a bit then clarified with egg whites augmented by white vinegar and salt. The consommé was passed through a coffee filter and left to set. Pictures would have been taken but it was so god damned clear that the camera couldn’t focus on anything. Actually, the stock reduced too much and kind of looked like really clear urine : (
Blanched sliced of yellow and Dutch carrots were shingled on the top side of the fish whose skin had carefully been peeled off and a combination of both carrots covered the lugubrious eye. A few rudimentary layers of aspic were spooned over the carrots in order to seal them against the fish so that the entire thing could be turned over and laid into additional aspic which filled the curvature of a dish thereupon insuring (hopefully) and even distribution of aspic, which was not the case with the previous hams: New Years Suckling, Swedish ham. Any uneven excess aspic was melted down with the help of a blowtorch as hairdryer usage had been given up for lent.
Abe Vigoda says: For something that looks so aesthetically elegant, resourcefully clever and technically disciplined, the carrots and stuffing tasted better than the fish. In hindsight, any fish of the sparidae family is not best suited for eating cold. The meat itself is too delicate and the bottom side compressed under the weight of the fish and stuffing. Pompano or golden pomfret will make a better product as the meat is much firmer and like mackerel is not unpleasant to eat cold. Hydrocolloids and other gelling agents derived from seaweed or silicone shoe inserts could be used which would permit the fish to be served warm without the aspic melting, but would invite accusations of unethical facsimile according to Mr. Melonas’ half-spherified pretzel-logic and hyperventilating fears of Mole-Gas’s demise.