Recipes inspired by the food fishery

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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Now is the time not only to mourn the loss of one of the planet’s most treasured food resources but also to celebrate what we still have. Nobody in any of the world’s greatest cities can look forward to a piece of cod taken out of the water this morning and in their kitchens tonight, so you be thankful.

Crispy Beer-Battered Cod

Yes, you can buy fish and chips at any number of decent restaurants and takeouts in this province, but there’s something satisfying about deep frying fresh fish just out of the water.

Beating the egg whites is worth the extra effort because they add a wonderful crisp lightness to the batter. It’s equally good for coating zucchini pieces or broccoli florets — whatever you like battered and fried. I would skip the fries and serve these golden nuggets with mounds of coleslaw and lots of cold beer.

1-1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. baking powder

1-1/2 tsp. salt

pinch cayenne pepper

1 bottle full-bodied beer

2 egg whites

6 to 8 pieces cod fillet

flour for dredging

oil for deep frying

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in beer until batter is smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold gently into beer batter, preserving as much of the puffiness as you can.

Dredge cod in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in batter and deep fry at 365 F if you have a deep fryer that tells you, or a thermometer, but if you’re not sure, test a bit of batter. It should sizzle and brown in just a few seconds.

Grab the fish by the thinnest part and dip it into the hot oil, gently waving it back and forth for a minute to set the batter, then let it go carefully, pointing away from you. Count to 10 and add the next piece. Don’t overcrowd your pot or the temperature of the oil will drop too quickly and the fish will be greasy. Flip over when brown on one side and drain thoroughly on a rack or on paper towels before serving.

Dressed Cod Fillets

When I was a young girl, we ate an awful lot of fresh cod, although I didn’t appreciate it then the way I do now. Stuffed and baked was one of my mother’s go-to recipes, and any time I come across a round fish, it’s my first choice. More likely, however, I’ve got fresh fillet to work with, so I’ve adapted the recipe.

I like this with simple sides like green peas or steamed carrots, or both.

4 large thick cod fillets

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. savoury

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp. soft butter

Place cod in a single layer in a greased baking dish, folding under the thin tails if they are still attached. Fry onion in butter until soft. Add savoury and cook a few minutes, until fragrant. Stir in breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and parsley.

Mound the stuffing on top of each fillet, pressing it tightly together and onto the fish to keep it all from falling off into the pan. Carefully pour wine around the base of the fish. Cover tightly and bake at 350 F, about 20 minutes for thick pieces but you’ll have to check. Remove the cover, increase the heat to 450 F and bake another couple of minutes, just until the stuffing starts to crisp on top. Remove fish and swirl the butter into pan juices. Drizzle over fish.

Steamed Cod with Asian Flavours

Cod pairs perfectly with Asian flavours and steaming is a great method to preserve its freshness, so this recipe could well become one of your standards. As an added bonus, this is ridiculously easy and waistline friendly.

Rice vinegar is critical to success here because it is much lighter than any other. This fish is best served with a light side dish — consider plain or fried rice or stir-fried vegetables.

4 cod fillets

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

several thick fresh ginger slices

3 tbsp. each rice vinegar and light soy sauce

green part of 4 green onions, chopped

Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper and place in a heavy frying pan. Place ginger slices on top. Combine vinegar and soy sauce and pour over top. Cover and simmer on low heat about five minutes. Sprinkle green onions on top, cover and cook another couple of minutes, just until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Discard ginger and serve.

A squeeze of lemon just before serving is nice.

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.

Organizations: The Telegram

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