I have explored eating sea fish in the last couple of years or so, and more so after moving out of India. It has been said that necessity is the mother of creativity. To a large extent, this idiom holds true for my story of cooking with sea fish. Having grown up eating fresh water fish, the taste and smell of ocean fish hadn't appealed to me until I came to Canada, where finding typical Indian river water fish is almost a dream.
Cod is one such ocean fish that I have loved ever since I tasted it. I love cod for its extreme delicateness, though the same thing becomes quite tricky while cooking it in a pan. The lean white meat and flakiness with a mild taste of this fish reminds me very much of tender chicken. It needs the simplest of spices and sometimes none! For this recipe of cod fish, I did a low-fuss less-drama preparation.
Like spices, amidst the meaty-food world, cod is a fish that has been revolutionary in history. Found in the North Atlantic shore, it attracted the Vikings and Basques to go fishing all the way up to North America and take back these marine creatures highly valued for their flesh and oil. Cod stays fresh when salted and stored, and was perfect to be carried back to Europe. Over the years, humankind has done a lot to deplete this wonder of the ocean. This post is somehow also poignant as it makes me think how less of humans we are to be so greedy!
The almost pescatarian that I am, perhaps I will give up eating cod someday (I hardly eat it even now, as it's rare to find it in the super market often). Until then, this recipe is from cod, with love!
An excerpt from Mark Kurlansky's book, Cod: A biography of a fish that changed the world:
In July 1992, the Canadian government closed Newfoundland waters, the Great Banks, and most of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to groundfishing. Groundfish, of which the most sought after is cod, are those that live in the bottom layer of the ocean's water. By the time the moratorium was announced, the fishermen of Pretty Harbour, seeing the rapid decline of their once prolific catch, had been demanding it for years. They had claimed, and it is now acknowledged, that the offshore trawlers were taking nearly every last cod. In the 1980s, the government scientists had ignored the cry of inshore fishermen that the cod were disappearing. This deafness proved costly.
Are there any pointers to cook cod?
Cod has a slightly salty nuance in it's taste. So, I recommend cooking it with minimum salt as possible.
I usually marinate my fish with a tinge of salt and some herb or spice, and it's true for this recipe too. So, I do not add any extra salt to cod fish once it's in the pan.
It's quite flaky and hence I do not enjoy grilling it. It's great to bake and fry!
If you're a fan of chowders, cod makes a good candidate for it.
1 large or 2 medium portions of cod fish
For marination: 1 tsp garlic minced, a pinch each of black pepper and rock salt, 1 tsp lime juice and few mint leaves
For the green sauce: small bundles of coriander, parsley and basil, 1 tsp of dried rosemary
For sauteing: 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp garlic diced, 3-4 scallions diced
Marinate the fish:
Add all ingredients mentioned for the marination in a plate, place the fish over them and gently rub everything onto the fish.
Cover and keep for about 30 minutes. Note: Keeping it marinated for an hour or more is not a problem (in case you want to marinate and keep it and get back to cooking it later). I don't store fish in refrigerator after marination, and I don't marinate fish for a very long time.
Make the sauce:
Add all sauce ingredients in a blender and make a fine paste. Keep aside.
Cook the fish:
Heat oil in a pan over low to medium flame, and add the garlic and scallions.
Toss for a few seconds and add the fresh green sauce.
Cook for two minutes and then gently slide the marinated cod into the pan.
After about 3-4 minutes, flip the cod onto the other side. Note: Tossing cod fish can be tricky. Always keep the heat below medium and gently turn the fish to cook the other side.
Cover the pan for a bit to let the aroma of the paste sink into the cod.
Once cooked, remove the fish from the pan and serve with a load of colorful veggies and a big ring of lime!
You can add a portion of your favourite rice or pasta if you like on the side. I enjoy eating it just as is too, with loads of steamed or sautéed bell peppers, broccoli and root vegetables like carrots or potatoes.