Besides my Advanced Baking and Garde Manger classes, the second half of this third semester has been spent on the service side of the PCR. While the white-tablecloth atmosphere of the dining room has been a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the Latin Quarter and Cafeteria, there is almost zero cooking involved.
I say almost zero because I went through the positions of server, host and manager before I got to the position of tableside - the only cooking position! Strangely enough, most everybody shied away from this position, probably because it meant prepping on your own time and having to cook in front of guests.
I was excited because of the challenge, but also because I missed cooking. So I had this plan where I would cook a different protein each day of the week: tuna, chicken, pork, beef and lamb. Sadly, this plan did not work out because the spring buffet was during this tableside week, along with the faculty flex day. So I nixed the beef (kimchi fried rice) and lamb (vindaloo curry).
The week started out with a tuna tartare salad, similar to one I have eaten at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion restaurant. I remember marveling at the different layers (stacked with the help of a ring mold) and all the flavors of different things I liked to eat blending together (spicy tuna, avocado, etc.).
Upon Google research I found this tuna tartare salad recipe that I liked. So then I sent to tweaking the recipe.
First I cut sushi-grade tuna into cubes, then marinated it in a combination of rice wine vinegar, mirin cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger, sambal chili and sesame oil.
For additional elements I prepared:
mizuna greens (with vinaigrette similar to the tuna marinade)
mashed avocado (with lime juice)
mango cucumber salsa (see recipe here)
toasted sesame seeds (black & white)
wonton chips (wonton wrappers cut in half and deep-fried)
sliced radishes and sprouts for garnish
Everything was fine until I started on the radishes with a mandolin slicer and cut the tip of my middle finger off. Besides bleeding like crazy and getting light-headed, I had to finish prepping everything with one hand.
The order in which I ended up assembling the salad was: greens, tuna, avocado, mango, radishes, sesame seeds and sprouts, then wonton chips around the stack. Chef Ogden informed me that what I thought was tuna tartare was actually tuna poke because of the marinade.
I assumed that the tableside dish wouldn't be popular because of the rawness of the tuna, and because it wasn't a hot dish. I was wrong. Orders came in one right after the other, and me and my awkward latex gloves (terrible for trying to sprinkle sesame seeds but necessary due to the cut finger) wheeled the tableside cart around from table to table until the special sold out.
One of my customers put this picture of me on facebook and lots of people liked it... but oh the awkward gloves!!!
(Side note: my finger has completely healed - the tip is just a little bit flat, haha.)