Chef Eric Ripert on How to Cook Fish and French Food at Home
How to Cook Fish
Do you have any suggestions for the cooking-fish-at-home phobic?
Make sure you buy the freshest fish possible. Fish should never smell like fish. Season the filet on both sides with salt and pepper. Brush it with soft butter (on top) and broil it for a few minutes until cooked. For doneness, I always use this trick: insert a metal skewer to the thickest part of the filet, when you remove it, touch it to the inside of your wrist (or upper lip if you’re brave) and it should feel warm. If it’s cold, the fish is not cooked yet, if it’s hot, it is overcooked.
Any good tips for making lobster bisque?
I usually make a very powerful lobster stock—definitely pressing the lobster shells to extract the maximum—but also use a roux to give consistency and creaminess—no blender necessary!
What are the best ways to cook trout and striped bass?
I recommend sautéeing striped bass in a hot pan with a little bit of oil—it will allow you to have a nice crust without it getting mushy. For trout, use the same technique—but cook it only on one side.
What’s your favorite way to prepare Skate?
Skate is very delicate and I recommend poaching it. I love the classic preparation of skate with brown butter.
What causes shrimp to reduce in size after cooking?
If the shrimp are very fresh, they may shrink right away. If the heat is too high they will do the same. The best way is to cook the shrimp in the skin, head-on, and peel them after—they won’t shrink at all.
Ripert’s Travel Tips
What are your favorite Paris restaurants?
I highly recommend that you visit L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Le Comptoir, Le Chateaubriand, Frenchie’s—Or, for a grand experience, Yannick Alléno at Le Meurice.
What are your favorite Napa restaurants?
In Napa, how can one not love the cooking of Thomas Keller at French Laundry? I also enjoy Michael Chiarello and not far from Napa, Cyrus in Sonoma—I am also fascinated by the cooking of David Kinch at Manresa in Los Gatos. It's worth a special trip.
What Ripert Cooks at Home
What is your favorite meal to make for yourself?
I like to make stews in the winter, like coq au vin or beef bourguignon. And I love to grill, mostly steaks and all kinds of vegetables in the summer, since I eat fish all week at Le Bernardin.
What is one dish you had as a boy in Antibes that you still crave to this day?
It’s a few things: The apple tart that my grandma made for me, the Vietnamese spring rolls and couscous that my mom made—the croque monsieur of my other grandma in Nîmes and the soupe au pistou from my aunt Monique.
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