Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Holy Trinity: fast, easy, & delicious!

You've heard that old saying "With great effort comes great reward"? Well, sometimes, especially when it comes to cooking, great effort is just great effort. Who among us hasn't spent a few hours prepping and cooking what should have a stupendous eating experience, only to go "that's it?" Man, I hate that. And I'm know Mr. Great Effort guy wouldn't have been happy with this amazingly satisfying cod dish I made the other night (especially paired with the cucumber salad featured in yesterday's post). His loss.

Cod is one of those unheralded white fishes that I almost never think about. Cod is kind of like the turkey of the sea, because like turkey this mild flavored fish it's just a vehicle for whatever you happen to season and slather it with. I grabbed a little over a pound of wonderfully fresh cod fillet on sale at our local organic market (couldn't beat the sale price of $5.99/lb) and started looking through cookbooks and online for something new. Once again epicurious provided the inspiration in the form of this recipe from Bon Appetit. Got great reviews, loved the ingredient list and ease of prep, so I was in. I made the cuke salad first, and while that was melding in the fridge I did the quick work of whipping this together with a couple of adjustments. When it all came together on the table both w and I were pretty wowed. The hoisin-sambal sauce slathered on top provided this sweet-hot flavor that was countered by the impact of the ginger sauce that gets spooned around the cod. Really interesting, full, complex flavors that rocket around your mouth, and the cooling cucumber salad was the perfect side. Make sure you have some basmati rice on the table, too. This was definitely "company worthy" eating and if you're ever pressed for time but still want to impress, this should be a go-to!
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Cod with Hoisin and Ginger Sauces
adapted from epicurious/Bon Appetit

serves 4

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon honey
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce*
2 1/4 teaspoons hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 7-ounce cod fillets
Steamed rice

Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring ginger sauce to room temperature before serving.)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir hoisin and chili paste in another small bowl. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add cod, skin side up. Cook 2 minutes, then turn cod over. Spoon hoisin mixture over fillets, dividing equally. Transfer to oven and bake until fish is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Place 1 fillet in each of 4 shallow soup bowls. Spoon ginger sauce around fish and serve with steamed rice.

note: it really helps when turning and removing the cod fillets to have a fish spatula, as they're a pretty delicate piece of fish.- bb

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