Craftsy Class Review: Secrets to Cooking Fish: Eight Essential Techniques with Joel Gamoran

As I've referenced in other posts, my husband and I periodically talk about how we really should eat more fish. I'm a bit iffy on fish in general; I have a few types of fish and a few ways it can be prepared that I can almost say I enjoy. He likes fish better than I do, but it's still not something he really looks forward to. I have been wanting to learn more about different ways to prepare fish (in the ever-diminishing hope I'd ever find something I really, truly loved), so I was thrilled when I saw that Craftsy now has a second class on fish. I had already done Fire up the Fish with David Bonom and enjoyed it (here's my review of that one). So, here's my review of Secrets to Cooking Fish: Eight Essential Techniques with Chef Joel Gamoran.

Joel Gamoran is executive chef at Sur La Table. You can tell he's used to teaching classes--he's very easy to watch: he's dynamic without being over the top, and makes you feel immediately comfortable. One very nice twist to this class is that he brings in a student for each lesson; the student serves as a visual "stand-in" for you as the viewer, of course. It's nice to see someone slicing and chopping as slowly as I might, and giving him the occasional uncertain look. I enjoyed how that made this class feel a bit different from other cooking classes I've done on Craftsy. 

Because he's associated with Sur La Table, there is a certain amount of product placement in this class. And I did almost "bite," so to speak, because my fish spatula is a very cheap one that's not at all flexible when I try to get fish out of the pan, so I tend to end up with crumbly bits on the plate rather than a pretty filet. Still, I decided I'd wait to treat myself to a decent fish spatula for if I ever start cooking fish on a more regular schedule than Once in a Blue Moon.

Each lesson introduces different ways of cooking fish by going through a recipe for that technique. There were only a couple of the recipes that I thought my husband and I would be able to agree on, so I ended up making the Sole with Browned Butter, Lemon and Almonds recipe, although I substituted tilapia for sole. In the grand scheme of fish, I will say I enjoyed this fish more than most, and it was certainly a very easy recipe to throw together on a weeknight. Next time I make it, though, I think I'm going to throw a little Panko crumb on that fish as my husband and I both like our fish to have a bit of a crispier outside. 

On the other hand, by the time it's soaking in that very tasty butter/lemon sauce, you've probably negated the vast majority of the health factor to eating fish in the first place. But that's beside the point.

I did really enjoy the class, despite my half-hearted feelings about the main course. I feel like I understand a little more about fish and what types of fish work best with what kinds of preparations, and I really appreciated his discussion of sustainability in the second lesson; great information there. There was a decent amount of information in regards to blending flavors and what kinds of sauces, salsas, or side dishes work well, although I always wish for more along those lines.

Still n' all, I do really recommend this class. For this non-fish-aficionado (see what I did there?), it was a good class. For someone who actually likes fish, it would be a great class!

The Basics

  • 8 classes; absent the 2 1/2 minute introduction of lesson 1, the other 7 range from 14 minutes to 26 minutes.
  • Lesson 2 is an excellent overview of types of fish, what to look for when buying fish, and sustainability; it also has a no-cook recipe included.
  • Lessons 3-8 go through grilling, roasting, poaching, sauteing and pan-frying, steaming, and curing and smoking. The recipes range in complexity but none are very difficult--they're all quite achievable by the average home cook. Some excellent tips for testing for doneness and how to slice and serve certain fish dishes are also useful.

I can't allow my two-thumbs-sideways attitude about fish to color my review of Secrets to Cooking Fish: Eight Essential Techniques with Chef Joel Gamoran, so I'm giving the class two thumbs up. And if you act fast, it's on sale right now!

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