Thursday, March 31, 2011

Seriously fresh fish - cod in parsley and caper sauce

Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple of weeks... The husband has done something fairly nasty to his back and, after a quick visit to casualty, has been convalescing at home for the past week-or-so. I've been busy making cups of tea and doing other useful wifely things.

I haven't even managed to blog anything about our fantastic holiday on the Suffolk coast a few weeks ago. We spent five days bathed in glorious Spring sunshine enjoying the delights of Aldeburgh, Thorpeness and Southwold. What a wonderful part of the country - extremely pretty with lovely little towns. Quite foodie too which is no surprise considering the coastal location and the vast swathes of agricultural land. We saw a great many pigs (and ate plenty of excellent sausages) but most of all we enjoyed some wonderfully fresh fish.

All along the beach in Aldeburgh, sit little fishermen's huts. Here they sell their daily catch and it really is as fresh as it could be.

We had rented a little cottage in Aldeburgh so cooked for ourselves most nights. We love to do this on holiday. Whilst we love eating out too, it is such fun to seek out local produce on holiday and take a little time to prepare something tasty. It also saves money of course - we spent much less on food which allowed us to splash out a little on some really super wines to enjoy with our food.

The dog ready for his holiday long before us!
When going on a self-catering holiday, I have to be prevented from taking the entire contents of my kitchen. One can never be too sure what kitchen equipment one will find in a rented holiday cottage. I also am unable to live without certain condiments (mustard, ketchup) and feel irked by the idea of having to buy new pots of herbs and spices when I have them already at home. This time, I tried to limit myself to one box of basic 'staples'. Plus a couple of tea-towels and my potato peeler (I can't be doing with a bad potato peeler). I also took my pancake pan as Shrove Tuesday fell in the middle of our holiday and we were not going to do without pancakes! As we were going to a seaside town, I also took my favourite fish cook book and a jar of capers (!) Is there anything you can't leave home without?

Holiday essentials

Anyway, back to the fish. The huts had a variety of fish and we asked for advice as to what was freshest and best. The first evening we were recommended some line-caught cod - it was new season cod, according to the fishermen, and came highly recommended. We bought a large piece at a fraction of the cost of supermarket fish and took it home wrapped up in newspaper.

We decided to cook it very simply as we didn't want to mask the flavour of the fresh fish. Having consulted my fish cook book we decided upon a simple parsley sauce studded with capers. New potatoes and a few green vegetables completed the dish along with a stunning bottle of Californian Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat, a winery we visited on our honeymoon. It was a comforting dish that reminded me of my childhood but the capers added a slightly more adult kick to the sauce. Delicious!

This simple yet super fish supper would work well with other varieties of white fish, including sustainable catches such as pollack.

The recipe is a pared down, simplified version of Mitch Tonks' 'Cod in Parsley Sauce' from his excellent 'Fish' book.

The Freshest Cod in Parsley Sauce
Serves 2 

300ml milk
1oz butter plus a small knob extra to 'finish' the sauce
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
Generous handful of parsley, chopped
1 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed and finely chopped
2 portions of cod, skin on, about 180g each

1. Pre-heat the oven to 230C.

2. Make the parsley sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low head. Stir in the flower and combine with a wooden spoon until you have a paste. Gradually add the milk, little by little, stiring well in between each addition so that you have a smooth consistency. Keep adding until you have a smooth sauce about the consistency of double cream.

3. Add the parsley and capers, season with salt and pepper and set to one side in a warm place whilst you cook the fish.

4. Heat a little oil in a frying pan (use one that can also go in the oven, if you have one). When hot, season the fish and lay flesh side down in the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes (depending on thickness) until the fish is golden. Transfer pan to the oven, or place fish in a small roasting tin, and roast for a further 5-6 minutes until cooked through.

5. To serve, add a small knob of butter to the sauce and heat through, stirring. Serve the fish with a generous pool of sauce.


Karen said...

The fish dish looks lovely. You look to have had a great holiday. Last year we went to France and I took my breadmaker! My girls don't like the hard French baguettes so I made bread each day.

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

YOur holiday essentials food box is far smaller than mine is!

I take silicone muffin pan and scales too!

bellini valli said...

Cod, halibyt and salmon are my favourites. With this creamy sauce I think cod will be on the table this weekend.

Jacqueline said...

Don't those beach huts look wonderful!

lynn said...

I LOVE the fish sign!!!!