Crispy Cod with Pine Nut Romesco

I regard this meal as a bit special and celebratory, though it needn’t be reserved for a formal occasion. (If you wanted to, it makes a lovely main course for a celebration meal like this one.)

A healthy, easy and quick-to-prepare meal that really looks the part.

Feeds 2 (but easily scaled up with a second frying pan)

Ingredients

For the romesco sauce:

50g pine nuts

100g roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and roughly chopped

1/2 clove of garlic, minced

1 + 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

For the fish:

2 thick cod fillets, cut in half if large (approx. 300g total), skin left on

2 heaped tbsp flour, for dredging

1 egg

1 handful (approx. 1/3 cup) grated parmesan

2 handfuls (approx. 2/3 cup) fresh breadcrumbs

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 – 3 handfuls of rocket (arugula)

1 lemon

Method:

To make the romesco, start by toasting the pine nuts. Tumble the nuts into a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking often, until golden. Keep your eye on them – pine nuts burn very quickly! Remove to a plate and set aside to cool slightly.

Add the toasted pine nuts, roasted red peppers, garlic, vinegar, paprika, olive oil, a tiny splash of water (1/2 tbsp at most) and a pinch of salt and pepper to an immersion blender, food processor or blender. Process until you have a rough paste, then taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as required. Keep on the counter until needed.

Make ahead: Romesco can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Bring to room temperature before serving.

To get ready for the fish, set up the breading station with three bowls as follows: one shallow bowl with the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper; one shallow bowl with the egg, beaten; one shallow bowl with the parmesan and breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper and mixed well.

Preheat a large non-stick frying pan with a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

Just before frying, coat the fish by first dredging in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip briefly in the egg, then place on the parmesan and breadcrumb mixture and press to coat the top and bottom well. Keep going with the remaining pieces of fish. When you’re ready, gently place the cod in the preheated frying pan, skin-side down. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until the skin side is a nice golden brown. Flip and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes on the other side.

While the fish is cooking, spoon a dollop of sauce on each plate, smearing out in one direction with the back of a spoon.

Dress the rocket with a squeeze of lemon juice and a small drizzle of olive oil, using your hands to dress the leaves.

When the fish is done, transfer to the prepared plates and add a small handful of rocket on the side. Serve with wedges of lemon for extra spritzing.

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