You’d think we would run out of ways to cook fresh cod, all the years we’ve been talking about it. You probably have three or four go-to recipes, but based on the conversations I’m having in grocery stores lately, you’re always willing to try something new, so I’ve got some new ones for you.
Blackened cod with rice pilaf
Blackening refers to a cooking method based on a Cajun spice mixture, but this version is mild enough to complement rather than overpower the cod, while still bringing the super flavour of brown butter.
Serve this with any side dish you like, but the rice just seems to go perfectly with it — must be those tiny sweet bursts in the currants and the crunch of the almonds at the end.
Both recipes serve four.
2 tsp. smoked or plain paprika
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder and ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 cod fillets, the thicker the better
2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Rice with Orzo Pilaf:
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup orzo (small, rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
Combine paprika, brown sugar, salt, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cayenne.
Dry the fish with paper towels and brush all sides with melted butter. If you use salted butter or margarine, reduce the amount of salt in the spice mixture by about one-third.
Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the fish and fry in oil at the highest heat possible until dark on the outside and barely flaking apart in the middle — don’t overcook it or it will be dry. Squeeze lemon juice over fish just before serving.
For the rice pilaf, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the orzo. Fry, stirring, until orzo is golden brown. Add rice and onion and cook until onion is starting to soften and everything is coated in oil — watch out it doesn’t scorch. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in currants and continue to simmer another five to 10 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in parsley and allow to sit with the cover just slightly lifted. Sprinkle almonds on top just before serving.
Crispy cod burgers
with sweet potato wedges
Skip the fast-food fish sandwiches and try these — you won’t be sorry. This recipe is for the smaller pieces of cod that you don’t want to waste, but it’s good enough to start with a big fresh fillet if you’re in the mood.
These are great with plain mayonnaise, but if you like a hint of heat, try the chipotle version, which is also fantastic on beef burgers, chicken sandwiches and stirred into a pasta salad.
There are very few recipes that use a whole can of chipotle peppers, but they freeze perfectly. Just wrap each one, with a little of the canned sauce, in a bit of plastic wrap, freeze them on a plate then put in a bag for use later ... so easy and so delicious.
Of course whatever you want will be great on the side, but this fish seems to cry out for sweet potatoes — the recipe is at the end.
This recipe makes enough for four generous servings.
1/2 cup mayonnaise, not salad dressing
1 canned chipotle pepper, minced
1/2 tsp. adobe sauce from the canned peppers
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tbsp. relish—green, corn or any other you like
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-1/2 lbs. (or 4 nice servings) fresh cod fillet
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp. each salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large ciabatta rolls or crusty bread
4 large lettuce leaves and fresh slices tomato
Combine all the ingredients for the mayonnaise and refrigerate until ready to use — some waiting time allows the flavours to meld nicely so feel free to make ahead.
For the cod, dry the fillets and cut into sandwich-sized pieces. Whisk eggs and bathe the cod to coat completely. Combine flour, corn meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme and dip cod in this mixture, shaking off the excess. Repeat to double up the crispy crust. Carefully fry in oil until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside on a rack or paper towels to drain.
For the sandwiches, split the rolls and slather on lots of chipotle mayo. Top with fish, lettuce and tomato and serve.
Sweet potato wedges
These are easy and will become a go-to recipe for your family. They have much more fibre and more nutrients than white potatoes, and they cook faster — no reason I can think of not to try them.
2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp. each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
Peel and rinse the potatoes but dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Cut into 1/2-inch fry shapes. Toss with salt, pepper and olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet — they should not touch each other or they will get soggy.
Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes then flip them over, rearranging so they don’t touch each other. Bake another 10 minutes and serve. If your baking sheet is really dark, they may not take as long, so keep an eye to them at the end so they don’t scorch.
Serve with more chipotle mayo or plain ketchup.
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, NL, A1E 4N1.