BLACK COD WITH FENNEL AND LEEKS

YOU'VE PROBABLY ENCOUNTERED BLACK COD IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, THOUGH YOU MIGHT NOT SUSPECT IT WAS THE SAME FISH.  POACHED IN SAKE AND GRILLED, IT'S A STAPLE AT SUSHI BARS.  THE SMOKED VERSION YOU'LL FIND IN ANY GOOD JEWISH DELI, WHERE IT'S CALLED SABLE.  WHITE-FLESHED, FIRM BUT FLAKEY, IT HAS A SILKEN TEXTURE AND SUBTLY RICH FLAVOR.  I TRY TO STAY OUT OF ITS WAY, AVOIDING AGGRESSIVE SEASONING, TOMATOES OR PEPPERS.  THIS TIME I PAN-COOKED IT AND SET EACH FILLET ON A BED OF BARELY-COOKED LEEKS AND FENNEL.  I RESERVED SOME OF FENNEL FROND AND SCATTERED THEM ON TOP.  THE ANISE SCENT OF FENNEL IS A NICE COMPLEMENT TO THE COD.  A SQUEEZE OF LEMON AND YOU'RE DONE.    

 4 BLACK COD FILLETS (1/3LB EACH)
 2 SMALL FENNEL BULBS
 1 LARGE LEEK
 1 LEMON

1

SLICE THE FENNEL BULBS LENGTHWISE IN HALF. (RESERVE SOME OF THE GREEN FRONDS FROM THE STEM.) TRIM OUT THE WEDGE-SHAPED TRIANGLE AT THE BASE. SLICE CROSSWISE IN 1/4 INCH PIECES.

TRIM THE ROOT END OF THE LEEK AND THE DARK GREEN LEAVES. SLICE LENGTHWISE IN HALF. RINSE UNDER RUNNING WATER TO REMOVE ANY GRIT. PAT DRY. SLICE LENGTHWISE INTO 1/2 STRIPS.

GRATE THE LEMON WITH A MICROPLANE AND RESERVE THE GRATED ZEST.

MELT 2 TBSPS OF BUTTER WITH A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL IN A FRYING PAN LARGE ENOUGH TO COOK THE FISH.

ADD THE FENNEL AND LEEKS. COOK ON A LOW FLAME, TURNING WITH TONGS FOR A MINUTE OR SO. YOU DON'T WANT THE LEEKS TO BROWN. ADD 1/3 CUP OF WATER, COVER AND COOK FOR ANOTHER MINUTE OR UNTIL THE LEEKS AND FENNEL HAVE WILTED. REMOVE FROM THE PAN.

WIPE OUT THE PAN.

DRY THE COD THOROUGHLY WITH PAPER TOWELS. SALT AND PEPPER. HEAT THE PAN FOR A MINUTE OVER MEDIUM HEAT.

ADD 2 TBSPS OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE OIL IS VERY HOT, LAY IN THE COD FILLETS SKIN SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN TO KEEP FROM STICKING. COOK FOR ABOUT 2 MINUTES.

ADD 2 TBSPS OF BUTTER TO THE PAN. COVER AND COOK FOR ANOTHER MINUTE OR SO. UNCOVER THE PAN A FEW TIMES DURING THE COOKING AND BASTE THE FISH. IT'S DONE WHEN A KNIFE INSERTED IN THE CENTER OF THE FISH FEELS WARM AGAINST YOUR BOTTOM LIP.

TOSS THE LEEKS AND FENNEL WITH THE GRATED LEMON ZEST. DIVIDE IN FOUR AND ARRANGE A PILLOW OF THE LEEKS AND FENNEL ON FOUR SEPARATE PLATES. ARRANGE THE FILLETS ON TOP.

SCATTER WITH CHOPPED FENNEL FRONDS. SERVE WITH A WEDGE OF LEMON ON THE SIDE.

SERVES 4

Ingredients

 4 BLACK COD FILLETS (1/3LB EACH)
 2 SMALL FENNEL BULBS
 1 LARGE LEEK
 1 LEMON

Directions

1

SLICE THE FENNEL BULBS LENGTHWISE IN HALF. (RESERVE SOME OF THE GREEN FRONDS FROM THE STEM.) TRIM OUT THE WEDGE-SHAPED TRIANGLE AT THE BASE. SLICE CROSSWISE IN 1/4 INCH PIECES.

TRIM THE ROOT END OF THE LEEK AND THE DARK GREEN LEAVES. SLICE LENGTHWISE IN HALF. RINSE UNDER RUNNING WATER TO REMOVE ANY GRIT. PAT DRY. SLICE LENGTHWISE INTO 1/2 STRIPS.

GRATE THE LEMON WITH A MICROPLANE AND RESERVE THE GRATED ZEST.

MELT 2 TBSPS OF BUTTER WITH A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL IN A FRYING PAN LARGE ENOUGH TO COOK THE FISH.

ADD THE FENNEL AND LEEKS. COOK ON A LOW FLAME, TURNING WITH TONGS FOR A MINUTE OR SO. YOU DON'T WANT THE LEEKS TO BROWN. ADD 1/3 CUP OF WATER, COVER AND COOK FOR ANOTHER MINUTE OR UNTIL THE LEEKS AND FENNEL HAVE WILTED. REMOVE FROM THE PAN.

WIPE OUT THE PAN.

DRY THE COD THOROUGHLY WITH PAPER TOWELS. SALT AND PEPPER. HEAT THE PAN FOR A MINUTE OVER MEDIUM HEAT.

ADD 2 TBSPS OF OLIVE OIL.

WHEN THE OIL IS VERY HOT, LAY IN THE COD FILLETS SKIN SIDE DOWN. SHAKE THE PAN TO KEEP FROM STICKING. COOK FOR ABOUT 2 MINUTES.

ADD 2 TBSPS OF BUTTER TO THE PAN. COVER AND COOK FOR ANOTHER MINUTE OR SO. UNCOVER THE PAN A FEW TIMES DURING THE COOKING AND BASTE THE FISH. IT'S DONE WHEN A KNIFE INSERTED IN THE CENTER OF THE FISH FEELS WARM AGAINST YOUR BOTTOM LIP.

TOSS THE LEEKS AND FENNEL WITH THE GRATED LEMON ZEST. DIVIDE IN FOUR AND ARRANGE A PILLOW OF THE LEEKS AND FENNEL ON FOUR SEPARATE PLATES. ARRANGE THE FILLETS ON TOP.

SCATTER WITH CHOPPED FENNEL FRONDS. SERVE WITH A WEDGE OF LEMON ON THE SIDE.

SERVES 4

BLACK COD WITH FENNEL AND LEEKS
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