Yes folks, it’s time for another video post! What does this mean? Well, for me it means that a day or so after this post goes live, it goes around my office, and I get ridiculed for a week or so….
Ever wondered why I don’t do more video posts?
Nah, but seriously – I want to do start doing a series of “Matt gets saucy” (yes, I came up with that all by myself..) videos, with a focus on seafood. The videos are gonna be technique focused, and based around simple clean sauces that are simple enough for a mid-week meal.
This here deals with my favorite fish of all time. Black cod. Or Sablefish as it is often called. This is a totally flake-tastic ridiculously white fleshed fish (as brilliantly white as this sorry Englishman’s complexion!) that also happens to be very oily. Good oils. Those Omega 3 kinds that everyone keeps harping on about. What is more the fish has enough flavor to be interesting by itself, but not too much where you have to be a bit careful as to what you pair or sauce it with.
In short “Black Cod is bloody brilliant“. Of course it is becoming a slightly trendy sustainable fish, and because of that I have seen a bit of a ramp up in price/lb over the last couple of years. The good thing here however is that this fish is pretty rich and I find that you really don’t need that much fish per person, especially compared to lighter fish like sole or true cod.
So this here be one of those 30 minute meals. But don’t worry, Sandra Lee or Rachel Ray haven’t been near this, and I doubt they would either. See, it requires some cooking. The fun kind. Slow cooking fish, making sauces, cooking veg. The heart of my kind of food. Simple, clean, ingredient focused. This is really my perfect kind of mid-week meal, or light quick supper. Fish on veg. Sauce.
Oh, and it uses a chump of butter. Which as we all know makes it better.
Slow roasting of fish is something that I don’t see a lot of people doing at home. I have no idea why. This is the absolute perfect technique for oily fish like black cod or salmon. It is also the least labor intensive, and quite frankly the hardest of all fish cookery to screw up.
When I teach someone how to cook fish that has never cooked it before, this is the method that I always turn to first. The slow roasting takes 20 minutes or so, but timing isn’t crucial at all. You could overcook fish using this technique by 5 or even 10 minutes, and you really wouldn’t ruin the fish at all. In short, it is a very forgiving technique that is really welcoming to cooks just experimenting with seafood.
The basic idea is that you let the fish get up to room temperature in a bath of olive oil. You drain the fish, and roast it at 225-250F for about 20 minutes, or until the fish quivers and slips in to flakes when poked with a fork. That is it. No pan searing, no grilling with the chance of sticking. Just throw it in a low oven for a while. It is honestly that simple.
Here I have paired the fish with some fantastic baby carrots I found at the farmers market. When dealing with ingredients as great as these, I like simple preparations that highlight the veg. Glazing really fits the bill here. The baby blighters are hard-simmered in water, honey and butter until the liquid reduces right down to a glaze. At this point the carrots should be ideally cooked through. Simple.
Some tips on glazing vegetables:
- Cut vegetables to be roughly the same size, so they all cook within the same time
- I like to use honey instead of sugar in a glaze. Healthier, and has more dimension
- Glazed veg can be kept warm for a while over a very low flame
- The idea is that the cooking liquid reduces down to a glaze at the exact point that the veg is cooked through
- Number 4 often doesn’t happen. If you find the veg is cooked through before most of the liquid has evaporated, don’t worry. Just remove the carrots, keep em warm. Reduce down the liquid, then return the carrots to the pan
- If you find the liquid reduces down before the carrots are cooked, just add more hot water
- Dress glazed vegetables with some very finely chopped parsley, and a pinch of salt at the end of cooking
Since this post is about a sauce. Lets talk about it. This is a really great simple sauce with only a handful of ingredients. It works great with most fish, and can be prepared in an instant. The only bugger really is that you don’t want it sitting around too long. Thankfully however it takes less than a minute to prepare, and is extremely tasty.
The idea is that you form an emulsion of butter and lemon juice, into which you have some fried capers and here a little chopped thyme. This gets poured over the fish right before serving.
There are tales of waiters in restaurants almost running dishes with this sauce to the customers table, because the sauce is really fantastic when it is roasting hot. Left to cool it can just get greasy and nasty. Frankly I don’t like to run at all, so this notion seems a bit preposterous, but for a good sauce I might just give it a go.
Here is the video. It is rough round the edges, but hopefully fun.
(HD version of the video here: http://vimeo.com/11313035)
Slow Roasted Black Cod, Glazed Baby Carrots, Lemon butter caper sauce
3/4lb Black Cod fillet, skin on, cut into two pieces
handful of baby carrots
4 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of honey
small handful of finely chopped parsley
a good pinch of finely chopped thyme
juice of half a lemon
two tablespoons of capers
Preheat oven to 225F.
Take the fish out of the fridge, pour some olive oil over it, and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
Prepare the carrots – trim off anything that looks a bit ropey. Cut them into even sizes if required.
Chop the herbs
Once the oven is up to temperature, and your fish no longer feels really cold, take the fish out of the oil, and place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
Put the carrots in a saute pan, along with 1 tablespoon of butter, and the honey. Fill with enough water to almost cover the carrots. Get this boiling over a high heat. Reduce to a strong simmer. Stir the carrots from time to time.
Take note of the tips for glazing above – When the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze, remove from the heat.
To make the sauce – melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan or saute pan. When foaming, fry the capers for a few seconds. Squeeze in a little lemon juice. Off the heat whisk in two tablespoons of butter and the chopped thyme.
Add the parsley to the carrots, and toss again.
Remove the fish from the oven. The fish is done when it easily falls into large flakes when poked with fork.
To serve – divide the carrots between two plates, top the carrots with the roasted fish. Pour over the sauce.