Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Au Natural Cod

Good evening everyone! I hope everyone is surviving the deep freeze out there! It's been in the negative numbers (actual temperatures) for the past two days and frankly, I've had enough. I'm ready for spring. Winter was miserable while it lasted, but now it's time for farmer's markets, warm weather, fresh (non-imported) vegetables, warm weather, sunny skies, warm weather and...warm weather.

Yesterday, we shared a delicious take on a breaded chicken recipe that also fell into the category of 'Maggie safe'. The breading was full of flavor, but didn't have a lot of creamy coatings or heavy oils to cause issues with Maggie's gallbladder. Tonight, I'm taking that concept one step further and going sans breading. Tonight's recipe is a variant of breaded cod - only without any breadcrumbs. Instead, the breading is created 100% by herbs and spices. (Nothing too extreme or fiery, however, as that would defeat the purpose!) I've attempted a recipe similar to this before - a pan fried curried cod that ended up...well, horribly. My hope is that by shifting from pan frying to oven roasting, the issues of that original recipe will not be a problem. Did it work out that way? Let's find out:

The Recipe: Fast Roasted Cod With Parsley, Oregano, Chile & Lime
Original Recipe Found In: The Naked Chef

What You'll Need:

2 Cod Steaks
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley (Dried)
1 Medium Sized Red Chile*
1 Lime

*Red chiles certainly have a season, and when they are not in season, they are harder to find than a Dodo bird, Maggie and I searched through 3 local grocery stores - including a specialty grocery store that usually has at least one of everything - no luck. Since we're not big pepper fans (and Maggie can't handle a lot of spice) I opted to replace the chile with 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes - for a little bit of a kick.

Begin by placing a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and spraying the rack with nonstick spray. Place the rack/baking sheet into the oven and begin preheating to 425 degrees. The idea behind heating the rack at the beginning is to create a instant sizzle when you place the cod on the rack. This helps both sides of the fish cook evenly - the top side is exposed to the most even heat, but the bottom side got a head start.

Pat your cod fillets dry with paper towels. It's very important to remove all of the moisture possible from the outside of the fillet. Moisture, especially when dealing with breaded fish, causes a lot of problems in breading. It clumps, it runs and disrupts even cooking across the surface of the cod. Moisture is your enemy in this situation - remove it with a vengeance.

Once you have destroyed all evidence of moisture's existence, gently rub olive oil on the surface of the cod. You just want a light layer - don't soak the the surface with oil. Unlike water, the olive oil evenly attracts the breading and evenly distributes heat while cooking. Not too mention, the oil acts as a barrier on the surface keeping the interior moisture of the cod (the good kind) inside where it belongs.

In a small bowl, mix the herbs, chile pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for the cod to be rolled in the mixture, but I found it easier to simply pick up pinches of the herb mixture with my fingers and distribute it evenly across the surface of the fish. Once both sides are evenly coated with a herb breading, place the fish into the oven (listen to the sizzle when you first put the cod on the hot wire rack!) and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cod becomes light and flaky.



Serve with some freshly squeezed lime juice (or lime halves) and enjoy!

The Results:

Jamie Oliver's claim to fame has always been to let recipes tell their own story. You don't need to pour sauce all over a dish to make a great flavor come out. Instead, let the natural flavors work together to create something that so many people miss - real flavor. Tonight's dish is the simplest form of this philosophy. While it may not seem like it, these few ingredients pair up so well together, it's like the fish really is breaded and covered in a multitude of sauces and creams. Add the light zest of lime juice and you have a almost tropical tasting dish that required very little effort or odd ingredients. Simple, elegant, delicious cooking (and healthy to boot!)

That's all we have for you this evening. Maggie takes to the kitchen tomorrow night to finish off the week. Be sure to stop back tomorrow evening to see what she's got cooking. Until then,


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