Good cod, Part 2

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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The ink wasn’t dry on last Saturday’s column when I started getting calls from everyone I know for cod recipes. I even got a few pictures in the mail from a friend who snagged the biggest fish I’ve seen in years.

Let’s not get too optimistic, but it’s sure nice to see a cod that will feed a crowd. That thought was worth a few more testing hours in my kitchen. I hope you enjoy the results.

Soft cod tacos

The typical hard taco shells won’t do justice to the delicate flavour of the fish, so please look for corn tortillas in the grocery store. If you can’t find them, then use flour tortillas, although they won’t be quite as good.

You don’t have to make your own tomato sauce, but it only takes a few minutes, and if you have any left, throw it in the freezer for a perfect addition to your next pot of chili.

Garnish these with shredded lettuce, sliced green onions, sour cream and hot sauce. I’d allow 2 tacos per person, but they are small, so if I were being really truthful, anyone who likes fresh cod will want 4.

1 lb. fresh cod fillet

1 lime, juice and zest

1 tbsp. chili powder, preferably chipotle or ancho

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup each flour and cornstarch

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 pinch white sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp. vegetable oil (plus more for deep frying or shallow pan frying)

2/3 cup ice water

8 corn tortillas

Tomato Sauce:

1 small onion, finely diced

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 canned chipotle, finely chopped

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Cut cod into 8 pieces. Whisk together lime juice, lime zest and chili powder.

Stir in minced jalapeno and cilantro and pour over cod in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Remove from marinade and pat completely dry. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk together egg, 1 tbsp. vegetable oil and ice water and whisk all at once into dry ingredients.

Dip cod into batter, allowing the excess to drain, and deep fry or pan fry in very hot oil until golden brown on all sides and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per inch of thickness; drain on paper towels.

Wrap tortillas in a paper towel and microwave a few seconds, until warm and pliable. If you have a gas stove, placing them over a low fire until they are soft adds a nice charred flavour.

Place one piece of cod on each tortilla and top with tomato sauce and garnishes of your choice.

To make your own tomato sauce, fry onion in oil until soft. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant. Add tomatoes, jalapeno, chipotle, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer together 10 minutes.

If you prefer a smooth sauce, puree in a blender or food processer. Stir in cilantro and taste for seasoning.

Coconut cod curry

With such a delicate fish, you have to be careful not to turn it into rubber by overcooking it, and you certainly don’t want to drown its subtle flavour in a harsh curry sauce, but this recipe is mild and sweet, complementing perfectly that piece of fresh cod in your fridge. Serves 4.

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 small onion, minced

1 jalapeno or other fresh chili, seeded and minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. each turmeric, garam masala and curry powder

1 can coconut milk

1 large ripe tomato, diced

1-1/2 lb. fresh cod, cut into large chunks

Add cumin to vegetable oil in a medium hot frying pan and cook until fragrant — a minute or so. Add onion and fry until soft.

Add jalapeno, garlic, turmeric, garam masala and curry powder and cook another minute. Stir in coconut milk and tomato and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Nestle cod in liquid and simmer together another 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice or roasted potato wedges.

Cod and potato soup

This fragrant concoction is great after a chilly afternoon on the water. It stands on its own perfectly well, but feel free to serve with crusty rolls for dipping in the delicious juices. This amount serves 6.

1 carrot, minced

1 stalk celery, minced

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup each skim milk and fish or chicken broth

4 small zucchini, diced (peel on)

6 medium red or white potatoes, diced

2-1/2 lbs. fresh cod, cut into large pieces

1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

4 green onions, finely chopped

1 lemon, juice and zest

Fry carrot, celery and onion in oil until tender but not brown. Add white wine and thyme and bring to a boil; simmer until reduced by about half.

Stir in milk and broth then add zucchini and potatoes. Simmer together uncovered about 15 minutes, until potato is nearly cooked through.

Add cod and simmer until it is perfectly cooked, but not overcooked.

Stir in salt, pepper, parsley, green onions, lemon juice and lemon zest and serve in warm bowls.

If you prefer a thicker texture, more like stew than soup, then mash a few potato pieces against the side of the pot before serving.

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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