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
Fresh flaky buttery cod that needs nothing more than a squeeze of caramelised lemon.
500g cod loin, cut into pieces about a hand’s length
3 tbsp cooking oil
1-2 tbsp salted butter
chicken powder – optional
1 lemon, halved
Lightly salt the side you’re going to cook first. If you have chicken powder then lightly sprinkle that over the fish loins too.
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.
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.
Dish up with a caramelised lemon half on the side for squeezing all over, and enjoy 🙂
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 lovesbutter, 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!!
Cod in a rich, spicy, garlicky tomato stew, comfort food Creole style.
1 green pepper, cue into vaguely triangular shapes
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp paprika (not smokey!)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 chicken stock cube or pot
pinch of sugar
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
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.
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.
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.
Leave the tomtoey stew to simmer away for 30 minutes.
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.
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.
Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice, and try not to think of all that butter… 😉