On the water, again

Cynthia Stone
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As I write, my mouth is watering just thinking about the food fishery’s final week. What a way to start the fall! I hope you enjoy your time on the water, or are fortunate enough to have a friend who will share the bounty with you. Of course, you can always go to the grocery store, because these recipes will work with any white fish you can get your hands on — need I say, the fresher the better?

Go to your cookbooks or your favourite websites and you will find thousands of recipes for fish sauces. The good ones have a couple of things in common. They are flavourful but complement rather than overpower. Preferable, at least for me, is a sauce that is either thin enough to coat as opposed to mask the fish or thick enough to pick up in a dab on your fork. See what you think about these options.

Pan-Fried Cod in Lemon Herb Cream

This recipe calls on the classical pairing of seafood and lemon in an unctuous cream concoction. By the way, the sugar in this and the next recipe does not taste sweet in the final dish. I read the idea in a magazine as a way to brown fish quickly so the inside doesn’t overcook, and darned if it doesn’t work. This amount should serve 4 — but no promises.

4 thick cod fillets, about 1-1/2 lbs. in total

1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper and sugar

1 tbsp. butter with 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Lemon Cream Sauce:

1 shallot, minced (or 1 small onion)

grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon

1/2 cup good dry white wine

1/2 cup each chicken broth and whipping cream

1/4 tsp. each salt and ground white pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

Dry fillets with paper towel. Combine salt, pepper and sugar and sprinkle all over fish. Melt butter in oil and fry fish over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side but not quite cooked through. You probably already know this, but the butter is for flavour and the oil is to allow you to apply a little more heat without burning the butter. Remove fish and keep warm. Add shallot to pan and cook until soft, a minute or two — add a little more oil if pan is dry. Add lemon zest and juice, wine, broth, whipping cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer and reduce by about half. Stir in parsley and tarragon and add fish back to pan. Cook together a few minutes, until fish flakes easily, then remove to a serving platter. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt and pepper if necessary. Pour over cod and serve immediately with heaping mounds of mashed potatoes.

Pan-Fried Cod with Dill Caper Mayonnaise

This dish is perfect for Sunday lunch with a salad and a slice of buttered fresh bread. The mayo is reminiscent of tartar sauce but much fresher tasting.

4 thick cod fillets, about 1-1/2 lbs. in total

1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper and sugar

1 tbsp. butter with 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Dill Caper Mayonnaise:

1 small dill pickle, finely chopped

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and well drained

2 tbsp. each chopped fresh dill and parsley

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

pinch each salt and pepper, to taste

Dry fillets with paper towel. Combine salt, pepper and sugar and sprinkle all over fish. Melt butter in oil and fry fish over medium high heat until golden brown on each side and just cooked through — it should flake easily with a fork but not appear dry on the inside. For the mayonnaise, which can be made ahead of time, stir pickle, capers, dill and parsley into mayonnaise. Taste and add salt and pepper as you like. Serve small spoonfuls alongside the fish.

Baked Cod in Buttered Corn Sauce

If you’re looking for a light recipe, stop after you bake the fish and eat it just like that. This unusual corn sauce is blocked with fat and calories but ridiculously good. Serve it to company so you won’t be tempted to scarf down the works yourself. The number of servings you get depends on the size of the cod, but this amount of sauce will easily top 6 nice pieces of fish. If you can’t find a round cod, use full-length fillets, about 2 lbs.

1 small whole cod, cleaned

1 whole lemon, quartered

1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper


1 cup corn kernels — fresh off the cob is best, but canned is fine

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (use 1 if you don’t like heat.)

2 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper

Place cod in a greased baking dish. Squeeze some of the lemon juice all over, inside and out, and poke the lemon quarters in the belly of the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover tightly, and bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness, until flesh flakes at the fin and easily separates from the bone. For the sauce, combine corn, lemon juice and jalapeno peppers in a small, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off. Add cream and butter and bring back up to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Stir in salt and pepper — taste and adjust as you like, but if you are using regular instead of unsalted butter, reduce the salt accordingly. Gently scrape off the cod’s skin and lift in chunks from the bone. Serve with the corn sauce poured over top.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, N.L., A1E 4N1.

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