Tag Archives: cod

Portuguese Cod

Two weeks ago when all of the kids and significant others were in town, we went to breakfast at Le Resto Fish & Smoked Seafood Bistro, in Chelsea, Quebec. I  was enticed by their new menu item, Cod poached Portuguese-style in tomato sauce with anchovies, chorizo, capers and olives served with chick peas, green beans, egg and olive oil drizzled bread. For an extra charge you can add mussels and shrimp. This rustic dish was so good I could not stop thinking about it.

Potuguese Cod stew 6The cod was lightly poached and held its shape and succulent, delicate flavour. The tomato poaching broth was rich with the warm spicy flavours of anise, saffron and smoky paprika, chunky with carrot and chick pea, salty and complex with olive, caper and anchovy, and bright with citrus. A perfect half of a soft boiled egg adds luscious creaminess and the grilled bread slathered in olive oil lends a delicious chewy crunch.

I  was prepared to recreate it through Google and trial and error when, on a whim we visited the Boucanerie (the Resto’s smokehouse just up the street) for some of their divine hot smoked maple salmon. Madame Line Boyer was in the house and I decided to straight up ask her if she would share the recipe for the cod dish. Line is the kind of hostess who is passionate about her product and customers and not only happily shared, but also led me through the preparation of her creation which was inspired by a surplus of cod, her French heritage and intuition for cooking and a traditional Portuguese recipe. The Boucanerie sells the sauce pre-made for the less adventurous, and of course, excellent cod fish.

So, as Mme. Boyer launched into her passion for this recipe (which is now a regular menu item due to popular demand), Rob recorded the “recipe” on his phone as she shared. Line cooks inspired by her ingredients and what is on hand. No measuring. I guessed at most amounts, and I must say I think I nailed it. I made the cod this past “Bottle of Wine Monday” and it was perfect. I also learned how to make a perfect soft-boiled egg for the top…which is essential.

Cod Poached in Tomato Sauce Portuguese-Style

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Olive oil
2 Fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed and meat cut into small chunks
1 Carrot, small dice
1/2 tsp. Anise seed
Good pinch of saffron
1 tsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika
Splash of Sherry or Marsala
1 28 oz Can San Marzano or best quality whole tomatoes
1 Can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Line prepares dried chickpeas for her dish)
1 Anchovy fillet, mushed up, plus a bit of the anchovy oil
A good dollop of frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tsp. Capers, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Pound of Cod
2 Eggs, soft-boiled
Rustic bread such as Art-Is-In Dynamite white, grilled or toasted and liberally drizzled with good quality olive oil
16 Kalamata olives

Method:

1. Render chorizo in a bit of olive oil. When meat is cooked add carrot and saute until tender, about a minute or two.

2. Add anise, saffron and paprika. Saute another minute. Deglaze pan with sherry.

3. Add chick peas and toss. Add tomatoes by squooshing the whole ones with your hands.

4. Add anchovy and a bit of anchovy oil. Simmer for 20 minutes

5. Walk the dog

6. Add the orange concentrate and the capers. Taste and add salt and pepper.

7. Place cod pieces in stew to poach. About 7 to 10 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, as fish cooks, boil eggs and toast bread.

9. Serve in low bowls, with 4 olives for garnish, half of a soft boiled egg and toasted baguette drizzled with olive oil.

10. Open wine

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Potuguese Cod stew 2 (1)Potuguese Cod stew 3 (1)

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Potuguese Cod stew 6

Ackee and Saltfish

I say it often: if you are going to date someone for their family’s native regional cuisine I would highly recommend considering Jamaican.

Ackee and saltfish – Jamaica’s national dish – is a pile of sauteed peppers, onions, dried salt cod and squishy ackees, which are custard-coloured fruit that resemble tiny scrambled egg brains.

Bacon is sometimes added to transform ackee and saltfish into the perfect pan of breakfast. Otherwise, it makes a great dinner together with dumplings and other starchy goodies like green bananas, fried plantains or breadfruit… Jamaican cuisine has by far the best selection of boiled starchy things. We fried dumplings and plantains to go with our ackee and saltfish.

Ackees are members of the soapberry family and are native to Africa – an introduced species in Jamaica. The fruit are bell pepper-shaped with creamy, buttery flesh and giant, black pearl-like seeds. Raw ackees are the fugu of the fruit world, extremely toxic when not prepared properly – hence, “Jamaican vomiting sickness”. Only canned ackees are legal for importing into most non-West Indian markets.

Canned ackees can get quite expensive, and it’s one of the few West Indies ingredients that specialty stores don’t have the perplexing ability to sell cheaper than everyone else. More regular grocery stores are carrying it lately, and a can will normally run about $8 to $10. No worries, because Matt’s mom brought us some cans of it. She also brought us Caribbean johnnycake mix for the dumplings.

Prep-time on this dish is lengthy but not intensive – the fish is encrusted with salt and must be soaked overnight or at least for six hours, with the water being changed out two or three times.

The ackee’s flavor is very faint and not sweet at all, but more like a smooth, soft scrambled egg that’s quite tasty when smushed onto half a johnnycake. Peppers and fish make perfect comfort food, who knew?

That noise you hear is Matt bumping into me after he turns around to find me sneaking in a photo or two. He’s doing the cooking, but to be fair I rolled the dumpling dough into little balls.

Most of the ackee and saltfish recipes found online seem to be wrong (even Emeril’s!), according to the slew of Jamaican commenters shaming various recipes that use added aromatics and other ingredients that overpower the subtle ackee. This recipe is a hybrid of what Matt knows, recipes from Jamaican tourism sites and suggestions from those commenters.

We also went all out with our Jamaican dinner and picked up some kola champagne while Metro tries to impress us with its “Caribbeanfest”, offering bottles of tropical drinks for 50 cents – which of course, will be gone from the store next week. Kola champagne is similar to cream soda, with a delightful and intriguing soapy aftertaste not unlike Thrills gum.

For simplicity’s sake, here is the recipe link from which I derived my grocery shopping list for this dish that also comes with video instructions and photos. Try it. It. Was. Delicious.

 

Matt shows us his secret plantain-peeling tip: cut off the ends and then slice down the "corners" of the fruit, making it easier to remove the peel in sections.

 

 

 

Contributor Heather Rose is a freelance writer living in Toronto with her puppy, Bodie and boyfriend, Matt, one of whom enjoys her culinary experiments more than the other. She applies her life-long philosophy – “I did my best” – to all her recipes and cooking experiences. Check out her website at www.heatherrosewriting.com.