Eating Our Words had the opportunity to attend Central Market's "From Pint to Plate with Kent Rathbun" class on Monday, just one of many events surrounding Central Market's "Discover Brewtopia" celebration. You may remember Kent Rathbun as the chef who took down Bobby Flay on the Food Network's Iron Chef America. His company, Rathbun Concepts, now owns seven restaurants and includes a product line of mixes and rubs available exclusively at Central Market until next month, when they will begin retailing at all H-E-B locations as well.
Over the next two hours Rathbun proceeded to cook four courses while the class observed and drank whatever particular beer was called for at the moment. Cameras angled at the prep and stovetop areas allowed for detailed views fed onto flat screen TVs on each side of the room. He began with Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Ugly Pug Beer Braised Vidalia Onions and Ancho Barbeque Sauce, followed by Grilled Chicken & Shishito Pepper Skewers with Jasmine Rice & Yellow Curry Sauce, then Pan Roasted Striped Bass with Texas Peach Barbeque Sauce and Blonde Beer Braised Cream Corn for the main course, and finally Cinnamon-Chocolate Molten Cake topped with Cherry Beer Ice Cream for dessert.
Aside from the drinking and tasting, we enjoyed the little hints and tips most of all.
- How to make the curly green garnishes used by Asian restaurants: Finely chop scallions at a high bias (sharp slant) then soak them in ice cold water for 30 minutes. Not only does this cause them to curl, but it tones down their flavor as well.
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- When cooking fish - never use olive oil and leave the skin on: It's great for cooking vegetables or anything at medium heat, but not for fish due to a low smoke point. For any foods that require high temperatures, chef Rathbun recommends using grape seed, Canola, or peanut oil instead. If you cook the skin until it's crispy, it's delicious. The secret is to keep the skin from curling is weighing it down. This can be done with whatever you have in the kitchen - another pan works best - just needs to be heavy enough to weigh it down for the duration of cook time on that particular side.
- Shishito peppers. Delicious on skewers. Hot, but not painful. Can be eaten whole, seedpod and all. Served at Rathbun's Asian concept tempura-fried or with a salt rub, like edamame.
- How to properly cook Jasmine or Basmati rice. Bring rice and water to a boil. Cook, uncovered until water disappears beneath rice. Once steam holes become visible in the rice, turn off heat, cover, and let set for 20-30 minutes. Fluff and serve.
The pièce de résistance was when the man did a demonstration on removing the "guts" of any vegetable and literally turned a bell pepper into a flat, unbroken sheet. Any attempt to explain how this was done would undoubtedly create more confusion than it's worth, so you're just going to have to trust us - Rathbun is a samurai on the cutting board, and that alone was worth the price of admission.