Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons

Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons

My newly discovered love of cod continues! So far I’ve only been brave enough to eat it after I’ve popped it in a sauce, but cod has this amazing buttery flavour even when buried under a tomato sauce or a curry sauce that I just knew could stand up all on its own without too much fussing.  I was right 🙂  As far as simple suppers go, and Summer suppers too, it really does not get much simpler than this, or tasty, helped by a generous squeeze of caramelised lemon.  I’m sure that cooking this in butter isn’t the healthiest option but the butter is just for the pan, and helps the cod get those lovely brown bits from frying.

This is another one of those starter recipes that has a wealth of flexible possibility. You can pimp it up with some crushed garlic, or herbs, and it goes great with mash or couscous or a side of spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, olive oil and chilli).

My problem with fish was never knowing when it was cooked. It’s not like chicken or meat that changes colour, white fish is white when it’s raw and still white when it’s cooked. Not very helpful for a fish novice… I’ve found that about 10 minutes total does the job, and when the cod flakes easily with a fork then you’re definitely good to scoff.

The other thing that put me off cooking fish for so long is the smell, and being convinced that how it smells will be how it tastes. My mum taught me her trick, which is to pat as much of the moisture off the fish with kitchen paper, and it works like a charm. Alternatively (or if you’re really cautious like me then in addition!) lightly salt the fish and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and that should draw the excess moisture out. Doing either or both of these, and eating it on the day you bought it, will stop the cod from tasting bad fishy, I promise.

I personally prefer cod to other white fish, it’s so wonderfully inoffensive if you’re not a fishy fish fan, and loins to fillets, they’re fatter and tend to be more uniform throughout so easier to get an even cook. Don’t cut your pieces too small, bite sized is bad, or else they’ll flake apart in the pan. And if your loin has a pretty side and a not so pretty side, cook the pretty side first so that when you dish up it’s the side that faces up. Food is as much about the looking good as the tasting good 🙂

Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons
Serves 2
Fresh flaky buttery cod that needs nothing more than a squeeze of caramelised lemon.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500g cod loin, cut into pieces about a hand’s length
  2. 3 tbsp cooking oil
  3. 1-2 tbsp salted butter
  4. salt
  5. chicken powder – optional
  6. 1 lemon, halved
Cook!
  1. Lightly salt the side you’re going to cook first. If you have chicken powder then lightly sprinkle that over the fish loins too.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until it starts to bubble – using an oil/butter combo stops the butter from burning if the heat gets too high – and then place the fish pieces down, salted side first. Then add the lemon halves to the pan, cut side down.
  3. After five minutes, gently lift a piece of fish to check if it’s got some lovely brown bits going on before flipping it over (invest in a fish slice, honestly!) and leaving for another five minutes, or until the cod flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Dish up with a caramelised lemon half on the side for squeezing all over, and enjoy 🙂
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Fish Creole

Fish Creole

I’m not entirely convinced that this recipe is in any way authentically creole, but it is authentically delicious and isn’t that what really matters 😉  It’s also another one of my mum’s recipes that I’ve been cooking since Uni (at least) but I’d always made it with chicken…  Until now!  Mum made us her fish version last month and the whole family were completely converted, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever make it with chicken again – tasty as that was, with fish it’s even tastier 🙂

This is a properly comforting dish and is perfect for chasing this last lingering bite of winter away.  The warmth of the paprika and chilli just goes so well with the garlicky tomatoey stew, and its heartiness is a perfect contrast to the delicate flakey buttery cod.

Speaking of butter… This is a dish that loves butter, and lots of it.  I’ve tried subbing corn oil in an attempt to make it healthier but ended up with a pale shadow of the real thing, so much so that I’d rather not have it if I can’t go all out on the butter in a James Martin stylee (!)  My compromise, then is to just not make this too often 😉

If you do want to make it with chicken instead then use thighs not breast (so much more flavour!), keep the pieces pretty big and sautee off to seal and brown before cooking in the stew for 30 minutes.

PS – how cute are my little fishy bowls!  They’re actually measuring cups but serving fish in them was too good an opportunity to miss!!

Fish Creole
Serves 2
Cod in a rich, spicy, garlicky tomato stew, comfort food Creole style.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 400g cod fillets (or other firm, white fish)
  2. 1 white onion, sliced (chunky rather than fine)
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 green pepper, cue into vaguely triangular shapes
  5. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 tsp paprika (not smokey!)
  7. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. 1 chicken stock cube or pot
  9. pinch of sugar
  10. butter
  11. juice of 1 lemon
  12. white flour
  13. salt and pepper
Cook!
  1. Put a wok, or large saucepan, over a medium-high heat and melt a generous tablespoon of butter until it’s starting to bubble and saute off your onions for a couple of minutes until the edges are starting to brown. Add the green peppers until the skin has blistered a wee bit and then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic burn.
  2. Add the tomatoes, spices, chicken stock cube and a generous pinch of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can about a quarter full with water and give it a good swirl to pick up any last bits of tomato, and add.
  3. Now, the measurements I’ve given for the spice is probably a little cautious. That and I’ve long since stopped using actual measures of spice for this dish so don’t actually know what the measures are! Taste and add more parpika and/or chilli to suit.
  4. Leave the tomtoey stew to simmer away for 30 minutes.
  5. When the time’s up, pat the cod fillets on kitchen roll until they’re as dry as you can get them – this stops them from tasting fishy (apparently!) Cut the cod into generous sized chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches which should hold them together while cooking. Shake some flour onto a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll your fish chunks in the flour to just coat them, and then lift out with a shake to get rid of any excess flour.
  6. In a frying pan, melt another generous tablespoon of butter and as soon as it starts to bubble lay your fish chunks gently in the pan. Give them 2-3 minutes and then gently turn over. The flour should colour up nicely so that you’ve got some lovely brown bits on the fish. Give the other side 2-3 minutes as well and then move the pieces of fish from the frying pan into the tomatoey stew. Add the lemon juice and then give everything a gentle stir before leaving to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add a final tablespoon of butter to give the sauce a lovely glossy sheen, stirring until it melts.
  7. Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice, and try not to think of all that butter… 😉
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m properly fussy when it comes to fish.  I like the expensive stuff (like lobsters, and big prawns, and scallops) or the meaty stuff (monkfish, I’m looking at you!) but can’t do anything that actually smells or tastes fishy, or hasn’t actually been cooked (smoked salmon is my nemesis…).  But I’ve got a couple of months of dental work lined up so I’m on a quest to find “easy” things to eat, and fish is one of the most obvious candidates.  Only I don’t eat it often, and have probably only ever cooked it from scratch once. Ever. So yeah. This was going to be tough!  But I saw this recipe in Olive magazine and remembered various people raving about fish tacos so figured it was worth a shot.  OM(G!) NOM NOM!!!!

Seriously, what is not to love about this recipe!  Lovely fresh homemade salsa that is a total doddle, and despite frying the fish it was properly light and flakey with just that wee bit of spicey crunch from the seasoned flour coating.  And eating it all felt all kinds of  virtuously healthy!

This is yet another crazily imbalanced taste to effort ratio recipe – the salsa takes longest (ha!) and if you can do that in the afternoon then all you’re left to do in the evening is the fish, and that really does take next to no time.  Honest. Given how terrified I was at the thought of cooking fish this was a good recipe to start with.  And when the weather gets warmer this will be the perfect light supper to rustle up quickly, more so if you cheat and buy ready made salsa 😉

Fish Tacos
Serves 2
Lightly battered bites of spicey fish, topped with fresh zingy salsa, all wrapped up in a warm tortilla.
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Stuff you’ll need for the fish…
  1. 4 tbsp plain flour
  2. 4 tbsp cornflour
  3. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  4. 1/2 tsp cayenne
  5. big pinch turmeric
  6. 1 egg
  7. 300g sustainable firm white fish, cut into bite-sized pieces
  8. Corn oil
Stuff you’ll need for the salsa…
  1. 3 ripe tomatoes
  2. 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  3. 1 small avocado, diced
  4. 1/2 lime, zest and juice
  5. handful coriander, chopped
  6. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1/2 tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped (optional)
Stuff you’ll need to finish it…
  1. Tortilla wraps (4-6 depending on how stuffed you like your wraps)
  2. 1 lime, quartered
Salsa first!
  1. If you can, make this a couple of hours ahead of time as it will give the salsa time to develop.
  2. The best salsa, according to Hubby, is made by skinning and gutting your tomatoes first, so… fill a deep bowl with boiling water, and the sink with enough cold water to cover your tomatoes. Cut a wee cross at the top and bottom of each tomato and then one by one plunge into the boiling water first for about 30 seconds, fish out with a slotted spoon and drop into the cold water in the sink. The skins should now peel off really easily. Once you’ve peeled them, quarter, and then pull/scoop out the seeds and liquid and discard. Dice up what’s left and pop into a bowl, and then mix in all the rest of the ingredients and give it a good stir about. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to eat – the lime juice will keep the avocado from turning colour so make this as ahead of time as you like.
Cook!
  1. Mix the flour and cornflour with the spices and season really well (seriously, do not be shy with the salt here!) and put on a flat plate.
  2. Crack your egg into a shallow bowl and beat.
  3. Heat a large saucepan with 2cm of oil. When you can brown a cube of bread in 30 seconds then its ready.
  4. Toss all the fish in the beaten egg until it’s well coated, and then toss it in the seasoned flour until, again, it’s well coated (I slapped on the CSI vinyl gloves and got stuck right in!). Fry for 2-3 minutes until the pieces have turned crisp and golden – depending on the size of your saucepan you may need to do this in two batches - and then “fish” out (sorry!!) and drain on kitchen paper.
  5. Try a bit when it’s cooled down enough and salt if required.
  6. Warm some tortillas up, pop three or four bits of fish down the middle, spoon over the salsa, squeeze a bit of lime all over, wrap it up and eat it up!
Adapted from Olive Magazine
Adapted from Olive Magazine
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Tuna Mayo Sarnie with Tarragon & Avocado

Tuna Mayo Sarnie with Tarragon & Avocado

I’ve always made tuna the same way, always and forever the same way, honestly since I was about 12 or 13 years old and my friend Zara introduced me to her tuna mayo which was flavoured with, of all things, thyme.  It really doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were sat in her kitchen eating it straight out of the bowl with spoons…  I’m not sure if the squeeze of lemon came after, but my fallback and failsafe tuna recipe for the last 30 years has been tuna, mayo, squeeze of lemon and a crush of thyme, maybe a little chopped red onion through it as well if I’m not planning on being sociable 😉

And then I found this recipe on Natalie’s Daily Crave, and being permanently on the look out for good sandwich filler recipes (which is more difficult than you might think!) and having recently succumbed to the magic of tarragon I knew I had to give it a go.  It did not disappoint!!  I think it also helped that I accidentally bought a can of tuna in sunflower oil for this…, having bought tuna in brine or springwater for years now, I have to say the can in oil was so much nicer.

 I didn’t have everything to hand so have noted the substitions I made which I don’t think would have detracted at all from the original.

Tuna Mayo Sarnie with Tarragon & Avocado
Serves 2
A newly discovered take on a failsafe and fallback sandwich filler that is intriguingly tasty.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 can of tuna
  2. 2 generous tbsp mayo (or keep dobbing it in until it’s how you like it!)
  3. 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  4. 1 tsp whole grain dijon
  5. 1 medium shallot (about 1 tbsp, or equivalent finely chopped red onion)
  6. 1 tsp freshly chopped tarragon (I used trusty old Schwartz which turned out just fine)
  7. 1 avocado, sliced
  8. 4 slices of fresh bread
  9. Salt and pepper for seasoning
Make!
  1. Drain the tuna and tip into a bowl, then mash the tuna with a fork to break it up. Add the mayo, mustard and vinegar and mix well. Then add the shallot and tarragon and mix through. Taste and then season as required.
  2. Whack it between two slices of buttered bread with the avocado slices and eat up 🙂
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/