Baked cod with toasted almond crust

Baked fish raw with carrot peels

I think there should be another, decidedly more elegant name for the generic term describing fish in the English language. Somehow this particular four letter word  just doesn’t sound as beautiful as the Italian pesce or even the French  poisson — both of which translate into the same ingredient. The senses of taste and sound trigger an infinite number of intangible emotional choices. How something is described can have just as much influence upon awakening an appetite as an aroma can have upon the deepest of feelings.

It is for this reason that I hesitate to write a recipe for fish. The sound of this word just doesn’t conjure up any form of intense desire. In fact to my ear, it does exactly the opposite.  The very sound of food not to mention the perfumes of the kitchen should awaken all the senses. Imagine for this reason something that describes an end result — namely a lovely bubbly baked black cod covered with a golden almond crust. This description is so much more appealing than the first word I mentioned, right?

Add some oven-roasted carrots and some spicy lemon-pepper zucchini ribbons and a lovely dinner is served.

Ingredients

  • Two black cod or sea bass fish filets weighing 150 grams each
  • 50 grams of raw almonds
  • 50 grams of Parmigiano Reggiano or locally ripened aged cheese
  •  One teaspoon of Dijon mustard . optional
  • Celtic or Himalaya salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 9-12 fresh carrots from the garden
  • A pinch of smoked paprika or piment d’espelette
  • The juice of one orange
  • Lemon zucchini ribbon salad
  • 500 grams or six new potatoes

This combination of flavors has quite a list of ingredients. With a bit of organization it only takes a bit more than thirty minutes before you can call your friends and family to the table — promise !  I like to prepare this meal in the following order because it gives me quick results. Start by gathering all the necessary ingredients on the countertop.

Rinse and dry the fresh cod or sea bass in cold water. Lay the fish filets in a casserole dish covered with parchment paper,  allowing it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fill a pot of water large enough to accommodate the carrots. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a boil.  Wash and peel the carrots. Scrub the new potatoes. If the potatoes come from an organic garden leave the skins on. Cut the potatoes into big wedges and set them aside.Plunge the carrots into the pot of boiling water for five minutes and remove them with a slotted spoon. Cook the potatoes ten minutes in the same pot as the carrots were blanched in.

Meanwhile layer the carrots on an oven platter covered with parchment paper. Squeeze the fresh orange juice over the carrots. Sprinkle them with salt and smoked paprika. Bake the carrots in the oven ten minutes. Drain the potatoes. Remove the carrots from the oven and arrange the blanched potatoes around the carrots. Return the vegetables to the oven and bake them for fifteen more minutes.

Grind the almonds to fine crumbs in a food processor or in a pestle and mortar. Grate the Parmesan cheese with the fine side of a box grater and mix both ingredients in a bowl. Cover the top of each cod filet with a thin layer of Dijon mustard and season it with sea salt. Cover the cod with a generous amount of the almond-Parmesan mixture.  Pop the whole lot into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish filet — or should I say pesce ?

While the rest of dinner is in the oven, make a raw zucchini ribbon salad as described in my blog. If you don’t have sage salt on hand, just toss it with some sea salt and finely chopping fresh herbs.  Remove the carrots and potatoes from the oven. Toss them with some olive oil and add some sea salt and a sprinkling of smoked paprika if needed. Take the cod out of the oven once the crust is bubbling and golden around the edges.  Serve the black cod with its almond crust on individual or shared plates with the oven-baked carrots and potatoes. Top the whole recipe story off with the zucchini ribbons and enjoy.

Suggested combinations
This recipe has all you need for a good dinner — some crunch on the black cod with a spicy Dijon note — smoky carrots and oven-baked potatoes and the tanginess of the zucchini ribbons.

Notes
Any leftovers make for a great salad at lunch the following day.

P.S. 
This recipe is my twist on one of Jamie’s 10 Food Revolution recipes. I gladly contribute to Mr. Oliver’s campaign as super ambassador of the Food Revolution. I too feel that teaching and passing on cooking skills to friends and family makes life not only more meaningful but infinitely more valuable on an emotional level. Read more on this here.

Baked whole fish with almond crust

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