Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook
Seaside living has, without a doubt, influenced Jacques’ repertoire of recipes to include the freshest fish caught close to his own backyard. On today’s show, Jacques showcases four sophisticated seafood servings, starting with an expertly executed Tuna á la Minute. He then skips the beef and substitutes shrimp for a healthy approach to a classic, with Shrimp Burgers on Zucchini. He goes on to garnish his flaky Grilled Bacalao (Salt Cod) Steaks with Olive Sauce with an assortment of zesty Mediterranean olives for a light and easy dish that cooks in minutes. Then Pasta and Shrimp with Pressed Caviar Shavings cooked al dente, or “to the tooth,” make for a decadent dish, delivered with aplomb!
“I had a dish similar to this in a small restaurant in Mexico, and at Gloria’s request, I created my own version at home. I use medium-size raw shrimp and puree the tails in a food processor, then combine the puree with pieces of the shrimp to form thick burgers.” —Jacques Pépin
“Thick salt cod has to be soaked for 48 hours to desalt it and the water changed three or four times along the way. It is always difficult to know for sure if the fish is desalted enough; I tend to soak it for a longer time rather than not enough, as salt can always be added to the recipe you are making. To test it, make a small incision in the thicker part of the fish with the blade of a knife and taste it to be certain that it is desalted enough. About 1 1/4 pounds thick center-cut salt cod will weigh about 1 1/2 pounds after soaking and can be cut into 4 steaks of about 6 ounces each. When the fish is rehydrated, it will feel soft but never as soft as fresh cod; it has an intense taste that we love.” —Jacques Pépin