WFD: Black cod, chorizo,brussels and almonds, fennel/paprika puree

February 19, 2008


OK – lesson learnt on this one. Bad food presentation = bad photograph. I flooded the plates with the puree. It tasted amazing, but looked, er, pretty bad. This obviously limits the photographs you can do – you don’t want to show a moat of puree! In future I would put down just enough puree to seat the vegetables in.. Oh well.

So this dish is somewhat inspired by a recent trip to Portland. Yep, that is why I haven’t posted anything in a while. Danika and I were in Portland, Oregon. Without our 14 month old son, Drake. His grandparents had him. So what did we do in Portland? Slept in (8am!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! impossible when you have a toddler), shopped like crazy, and ate extremely well. The food scene down there is great – when looking at restaurants for the weekend, it seemed like almost all were dedicated to local producers, and most were pretty much all organic. That obviously doesn’t mean all that much is the food is dodgy, but it wasn’t. We were there for two nights, and in those two days we ate some of the best food I have had in a long time, eating out. The first night I had a great lamb dish that was just a rack of lamb, lamb jus, and roasted potatoes. Sounds so simple, and it was. It was bloody fantastic. Perfectly cooked lamb, a jus that I would happily drink buckets of, and good potatoes. Second night was a dish of black cod, kale, butternut squash puree, and topped with some Oregon foie gras. Again, a spectacular dish, that quite honestly didn’t need the foie gras – the black cod was rich enough to carry the plate easily.

So, anyhow. Back to this dish. It is somewhat similar to a scallop dish that Danika had when I was chomping my way through the black cod. Her scallop dish tasted amazing, even though there was some slight grit still in the scallops. Normally something like that ticks me off (to say the least), but it didn’t matter this time – everything was bloody incredible, this oversight was OK. Just.

So, where did we eat?

First night (lamb): Lucy’s Table http://www.lucystable.com/

Second night (black cod, foie gras): Ten-01: http://www.ten-01.com/

Which was better? Ten-01 (even though I hate the name). The wine woman (I don’t like the term Sommelier) was incredible, as too was our waiter. The food was completely awesome. It was a decent atmosphere, with stellar food, even though there was grit in the scallops. Something I would never accept normally.

We tried to get in to Le Pigeon, but when phoning for a reservation I was met by an extremely arrogant woman, that had complete delight in telling me that they were booked up, and in the future I should call much more than 5 days in advance. Muppets. Eating out is about good food (which Pigeon I am sure has), as well as service – and this woman sucked at service.

Right, I have digressed enough – what on earth is this dish. Well, pretty bloody simple really. The fennel puree was quick to make, and the chorizo and brussels took no time at all. This was finished with a good glug of good quality balsamic vinegar, which deglazed the pan and helped add some richness. The black cod was simply popped under the broiler for about 12 minutes. The almonds add a good crunch and enhance the smokiness of the sausage and smoked paprika.

So some flavors of spain (two kinds of paprika and chorizo sausage) combine with northwest ingredients here to produce a fantastic homage to the end of winter..


Black cod, chrorizo, brussels and toasted almonds, fennel/paprika puree

3/4lb Black cod fillet – center cut, cut into two

1 large handful of brussel sprouts

1 chorizo sausage

2 cups of chicken broth

1 small handful of whole almonds

2 large bulbs of fennel

1 shallot

1 tablespoon of paprika

1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

3 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar

Start by making the fennel puree. Cut off the feathery tops of the fennel (save if you wish – they feathery leaves are actually great herbs), and slice off the root. Remove the outer layer and discard (it will be tough, and most likely beat up). Slice the fennel into 1/4″ slices, then chop those slices coarsely. Peel the shallot, and coarsely chop. In a medium saucepan over a medium heat get a tablespoon of olive oil hot. Add the fennel and shallot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly soft, and starting to turn brown – about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the pan. If it doesn’t just cover the vegetables, add a little more until it does. Add the paprika (not the smoked). Stir, then let this simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

Whilst this is cooking, prep the brussels. Remove the outer layer, and cut off the stem. Cut them in half, lengthways through the stem end. Repeat for all of em. Slice up the chorizo sausage into 1/8″ slices crossways.

In a small saute pan over a medium heat, toast the almonds until brown, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice them in half, discarding any shell/skin that might come off em.

When the fennel is pretty soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. Bung this into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Return to its cooking pan, and add the smoked paprika. (make sure you buy the sweet smoked paprika – the hot kind will be way too overpowering for this dish). Let this simmer with a lid on over a low heat whilst everything else cooks.

Preheat your oven’s broiler, and place the fish, flesh side up in a baking pan. Bung this under the broiler for about 12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily.

Whilst this is cooking, get some olive oil hot in a large saute pan. Add the chorizo and brussels, and cook until the chorizo is cooked through, and the brussels golden. Toss in the almonds. Turn up the heat, and add the balsamic vinegar. It should bubble, reduce, and smell fantastic. Turn the heat off under it, put a lid on, and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

To plate – spoon some of the puree into the center of a plate, and top with the brussels/chorizo/almond mixture. Pop the grilled fish on top of this.

Ohh, congrats you made it to the end of the post. The reward? A top tip for a great lighting store on the west coast – http://www.luxlights.com/ We picked up a couple of fantastic modern pendant lights to complete the renovation. We had been looking for months in Seattle, and found nothing. Until we headed down to Portland that was!

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  • White On Rice Couple February 19, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    That’s it, this beautiful fish dish is the last straw! We’re getting you back by tagging you! Now you have to share 5 facts about yourself to the blogging world!
    Details at:

  • mattwright February 19, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    You guys are funny. I have no idea what a tag is 😀

    But 5 facts about me:
    1) This blog of cookbook wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for my wife Danika, she loves my food, and really helps drive me forward.
    2) My spelling stinks nearly as bad as my language. Thank god we don’t have a swear jar at home
    3) I tend to cook by the seat of my pants – I write down a half-plan, then revise as I go along and taste. Cooking isn’t about exact numbers, it is about creativity and relying on your senses.
    4) I aim for complete consistancy, and get really ticked off when something doesn’t come out perfect
    5) A perfect day would be a hike with Danika and Drake strapped to my back (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v402/mattwright/discovery_park07/IMG_0879.jpg), a quick and simple lunch of some grilled seafood, then a hunt around Seattle for some great ingredients for an evening meal. Oh, and if some shopping for clothes and shoes gets in there, I am not going to start crying!

  • Simply...Gluten-free February 20, 2008 at 3:06 am

    This is my first time to your blog. Lovely! I will be back. The cod looks really beautiful.

  • Nina February 20, 2008 at 4:07 am

    I can see you love seafood – you treat it with so much respect – no overkill sauces and cooking methods. Simple and you make the seafood stand out on it’s own. Well done.

  • Grace February 20, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Wow the pictures you take are amazing! I was wondering, where do you get your fish from? Because the seafood at pike place market is pretty expensive…

  • mattwright February 20, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for all the great comments! Nina: to me seafood should really be presented simply, with just some complimenting flavors. Heavy sauces and such just really detract from the delicate nature of the fish. I would rather go with strong, robust flavors then heavy sides.

    Grace – buying seafood in Seattle – a jolly good question. I tend to avoid Pikes Market. For the most part it is a tourist trap. You pay extra for it. If you have to buy from Pikes, then goto City Fish (about half way down), obviously avoid the prats that throw fish around.

    My top pick however would be Mutual Fish (www.mutualfish.com). These guys are down on Raineer Ave, just south of the I90. I have been buying seafood from them for years, and everything is always stellar, and cheaper than Pikes. My tip is to ask them what is good at the moment (they are really honest about that), and just look for cheaper fish. I might go in there with an eye on scallops, but see they are $17/lb so I buy some great looking real cod instead.

    There is actually a ton of amazing tasting seafood that is around $5/lb – you obviously aren’t going to be buying Hallibut, but that is fine, in my mind there is far better (and cheaper) tasting fish out there. Mutual also carries quite a bit of whole fish too, some stuff that they don’t have filleted. If you don’t want to hack it up into fillets yourself, they will obviously do it for free.

    If you want a cheap as dirt meal, that tastes amazing, buy mussels from there. Generally $4 covers enough mussels for Danika and I. Saute a little shallots and thyme in some olive oil, crank up the heat, and put in a glass of white wine. Let this cook down, then put the mussels in (after you have cleaned and de-beareded them). Cover, cook until the mussels open (3 to 5 minutes). Toss in some chopped parsley, and a tablespoon of butter, and bingo. Bloody awesome.

  • white on rice couple February 22, 2008 at 5:25 am

    Thanks for letting us know a bit more about you! Who cares if your spelling stinks! That’s what editor’s are for! Just keep cooking your great food and get that cookbook out!

  • Julie February 26, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    The ingredients sound wonderful, what an interesting mix. I would love to make this, I just know that I will enjoy this recipe.