WOW, what a refreshing and surprising fish dish from Bon Appétit! This nod to scallion-ginger sauce uses both butter and olive oil, giving extra richness to lean whitefish. A dusting of cornstarch, which I added using a sifter for uniformity, imparts that restaurant-style golden crisp.
Our cod was paired with tri-colored couscous and fresh green beans, both of which made happy with the scallion-butter sauce. Seeing as how olive oil is an integral ingredient, use a high-end EVOO, you’ll definitely taste the difference. It seems almost too simple with the short list of common ingredients to end up so tasty!
Pat fish dry with paper towels; season with salt. Sprinkle one side with an even layer of cornstarch; brush off excess.
Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Lay fish, cornstarch side down, in skillet and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until golden, crisp, and opaque around the edges, 6–8 minutes. Turn fish over and cook just until fillets are cooked through and flake easily with a fork, 1–2 minutes.
Meanwhile, place scallions in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine butter, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and remaining 4 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to foam and garlic turns light golden, about 4 minutes.
Pour over scallions, stirring to wilt. Let cool 1 minute, then season with salt.
Serve fish with scallion-sesame butter spooned over.
Here, Molly Stevens combines mostly ordinary ingredients such as fish, spinach, tomatoes and shallots to create a dish far more elevated than the sum of its workaday parts. Your meal is folded up into a neat little packet of parchment that traps moisture so the fish steams in its own juices while the flavors mingle and intensify. And this method allows for super-easy clean up, woohoo!
The mild-tasting fish, whether it be cod, haddock or flounder fillets, are nestled onto baby spinach and topped with minced shallots, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a splash of white wine or vermouth, and a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil. (Our choices were dry vermouth and olive oil.)
Heart-healthy not only in appearance, but in ingredients too! For just the two of us we used two 8-ounce cod fillets, halved the quantity of spinach, but kept the same amount of tomatoes, shallots and parsley.
We were a little concerned that the fish and shallots wouldn’t be done in 14 minutes time, so we cooked for the full 18 minutes, and it was perfect. If using thin flounder fillets, make sure to fold them over into thirds, otherwise they will be overdone.
Three other tried-and-true riffs on fish packets from Molly are Flounder with Buttery Leeks; Salmon and Tomatoes, Capers and Chive Oil; and Sesame-Ginger Shrimp with Baby Bok Choy. We hope do blog on all of them in the future. A pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper are all the embellishments you really need, but incorporating vegetables and garnishes will turn these into complete meals.
Make Ahead: The packets can be assembled several hours before cooking. Refrigerate until ready to bake, and add 4 minutes to the roasting time.
Parchment Packets with Cod, Spinach, Tomatoes and Shallots
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the packets
5 oz. baby spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
4, 6-oz. cod, haddock or flounder fillets
2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, chives or dill
1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with racks in the lower and upper thirds. Cut four 24-inch-long sheets of parchment paper. Fold each sheet in half, forming a 12-by-15-inch rectangle and, with a pencil, draw a half-heart shape on the paper, centering the heart on the folded edge and making the heart as large as you can. Using scissors, cut out the hearts. (The heart shape makes sealing easier.)
Open the heart shapes flat on your counter and lightly butter or oil the center of one side of each. Place a quarter of the spinach close to the crease on the buttered side of each piece of parchment paper. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the fish fillets among the packets, placing them directly on the spinach. (If the fillets are less than 1-inch thick, fold or tuck them into compact bundles that are about 1 inch thick.) Season the fish with salt and pepper and top each with shallots, herbs and tomatoes. If using butter, cut it into smaller pats and place on top of the fillets. If using oil, drizzle a little over each fillet. Splash the wine over the top.
Fold the other half of the paper over to cover the fish. Then, starting at the top of the heart shape, working with about 2 inches of the edge at a time, fold over about 1/2 inch, pressing down and rubbing your thumb across the fold to make a crisp crease. Move a little way along the edge and fold over a couple more inches, so that your folds are overlapping and double-folded. Continue working your way around the edge of the packet, making overlapping folds, like pleats, always pressing firmly and creasing so that the folds hold. Don’t expect the folded edge to be perfectly even; it will be somewhat crooked — this is part of its charm. Go back around, making a second fold at any place that doesn’t appear tightly sealed. If there’s a slight “tail” when you reach the end, give it a twist to seal. (If you don’t quite master the seal, you can make a quick cheat by stapling or paper-clipping the edges in place.)
Arrange the packets on two large rimmed baking sheets so that they don’t touch. Bake for 14 minutes. (If the fish packets have been in the refrigerator, increase the time to 18 minutes.)
Either place the packets directly on dinner plates and provide scissors so that your guests can snip open their own packets at the table, or carefully cut open the packets in the kitchen and slide the contents out onto dinner plates or pasta bowls and serve right away.
The Hubs was thrilled with this recipe because it has clams, and we rarely cook anything with clams because I don’t eat them. It’s a consistency thing with me. I enjoy their broth, and when they’re cut up and chopped into things, but not whole clams.
The Spanish dish—Merluza en Salsa Verde con Almejas, or hake in green sauce with clams—is a classic dish from the Basque Country in northern Spain. Hake has been one of my favorite white flaky fishes ever sinceI enjoyed it for the very first time in Northern Spain in 2013.Problem is, it’s near impossible to source in these parts, so cod is a reasonable substitute.
In this recipe, fish fillets are gently simmered until flaky in a parsley, garlic and olive oil sauce, then are finished with cooked clams in their shells. Milk Street adapted this formula from seaside restaurant Txoko Getaria, and devised a method that requires only a food processor and a skillet but yields delicious results in only about an hour.
The cubanelle pepper (or jalapeño chili) is a stand-in for hard-to-source Basque guindilla chilies. And if you cannot find Idiazabal cheese, a Basque sheep’s-milk cheese with a subtle smokiness, Manchego is a good substitute.
Don’t omit the cheese. The pairing of fish and cheese is indeed unusual but the Idiazábal lends complex flavor without tasting distinctly cheesy. After adding the fish to the skillet, don’t allow the poaching liquid to reach a full simmer; slow, gentle bubbling is best to ensure the fillets are perfectly cooked.
Basque-Style Fish and Clams in Parsley-Garlic Sauce
4 6-oz. firm white fish fillets (about 1” thick), such as hake, cod or grouper
5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Cubanelle pepper or jalapeño chili, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into thin half rings
1 cup dry white wine
2 lbs. hardshell clams (about 1½” in diameter), such as manila or littleneck
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
In a food processor, combine the cheese, almonds and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until finely chopped, about 20 seconds. Add the parsley and process until chopped, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ½ cup oil, then process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed; set aside.
Season the fish all over with salt. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the remaining ¼ cup oil, the garlic and Cubanelle pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the wine reduces by half, about 4 minutes.
Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook, occasionally shaking the skillet, until the clams have opened, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a bowl, discarding any that have not opened; cover to keep warm.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour and ½ cup of the broth mixture until smooth, then whisk the mixture into the broth in the skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium, stirring often; the liquid will thicken. Add the fish skin/skinned side up, then cover, reduce to low and cook for 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a very gentle simmer.
Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Re-cover and cook until the centers of the fillets are opaque and reach 120°F, another 2 to 4 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the fillets to serving bowls.
Return the sauce to a simmer over medium, then stir in the parsley puree and remove from the heat. Taste and season with salt. Pour the sauce over the fish and top with the clams.
Lean white fish is mild in flavor, so before steaming the fillets we season it boldly with garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and fiery-sweet Sriracha. We often carve out the start of our weekday meals for a “Meatless Monday” and this combo from Milk Street (MS) fit the bill.
From their “New Rules Cookbook” it emphasizes a gentle heat as best for keeping the delicate flesh of fish tender. Steaming is ideal because the heat surrounds the fish, cooking it from all sides without movement. An aromatic sauce is added to complement the mild fish.
Because we are fungi fanatics, we increased the shiitake mushrooms by 50% for a total of 12 ounces. For a little spice, drizzle the plated fish fillets with a little chili oil before sprinkling with the scallions. Or sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed or stir-fried greens and jasmine rice.
Pairing the cod with stir-fried baby bok choy made with garlic, ginger soy and a few red pepper flakes, and a side of steamed jasmine rice brought the entire dinner together. And plating it all on a singular platter makes for an easy presentation and allows each diner to serve themselves as much as they want.
Simple. Healthy. Tasty. What more could you ask for?
4 6-oz. skinless cod, haddock or halibut fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. packed light or dark brown sugar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the oyster sauce, Sriracha sauce, oil, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the fillets and turn to coat, gently rubbing in the sauce.
Add the mushrooms and toss until evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Place a steamer basket in a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill the bottom of pot without touching the basket. Remove the basket. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high.
Meanwhile, mist the steamer basket with cooking spray. Arrange the fish in an even layer in the basket and top the fillets with the mushrooms, evenly arranging them. Return the basket to the pot, cover and steam over medium until the fish flakes easily, 8 to 12 minutes. (Ours took the entire 12 minutes.)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and ¼ cup water.
When the fish is done, use a thin metal spatula to transfer the fillets and mushrooms to a platter. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve with the sauce on the side.
According to the Washington Post article where we found the recipe, this Spicy Tamarind Fish and Herb Stew isn’t just memorable, it offers a teachable moment. Cookbook author Naz Deravian uses it for a lesson on “chashnee,” a Persian word that describes “a particular ingredient,” a spice or special something, “that brightens the dish, bringing it to life, like lemon or vinegar,” and it changes from one region to another. In the Persian Gulf region of Iran, chashnee comes from incomparably tangy tamarind and the heat of chile pepper.
In our neck of the woods, halibut is more than twice the price of cod, so that’s our preference here. Keep in mind, the sauce is bold. In fact, we, who love spicy food, didn’t bother to add any cayenne. You may also prefer to remove the chile seeds to further tame the flavor. I do feel the brown sugar (which we used instead of honey) balanced the tanginess of the tamarind.
Fenugreek seeds and powder are used in many Indian dishes for their nutritional profile and slightly sweet, nutty taste. If you’re unable to locate it at a nearby grocery store, you can check specialty markets or just order online like we did.
Beware, if you are not a cilantro lover, then this dish is not for you.
2 Tbsp. tamarind paste , dissolved in 2 cups warm water, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. brown sugar or honey, plus more to taste (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
2 pounds cod, halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked rice, for serving
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt, reduce the heat to medium, and add the garlic, turmeric and chile pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the cilantro and fenugreek and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the cilantro has considerably wilted, about 10 minutes. (This step actually only took 2 minutes for the cilantro to be completely wilted.)
Add the flour and the 2 teaspoons of salt and stir to incorporate for 1 minute. Stir in the tamarind mixture and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Taste as it simmers. If the sauce is too sour, add the sugar or honey to take the edge off the tang. Taste again for salt (keep in mind you will salt the fish as well), heat (add cayenne if you like), and more tang from tamarind.
Meanwhile, cut the fish into 2-inch pieces and season well with salt and black pepper. Raise the heat to medium, add the fish, and simmer, uncovered, until the fish cooks through, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir gently to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If the stew gets too watered-down, remove the fish and raise the heat to reduce the sauce a little, if it’s too dry, add a little more water.
Garnish with more chile peppers and cilantro leaves, if you like, and serve with rice.
The bright colors and flavors literally pop off the plate in this lovely, healthy fish tagine. And with a few tweaks, we bolstered that brightness by doubling the amount of carrots and green olives. Pairing it with a side of tricolored couscous to help soak up the luscious sauce didn’t harm the color palette either!
For a bright, flavorful fish tagine, start by salting chunks of cod to season the flesh and help it retain moisture. Coat the fish in chermoula, a flavorful herb-spice paste of cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and olive oil, just before cooking to season its exterior.
Softening bell pepper, onion, and carrot before adding the tomatoes and fish ensures that the vegetables will be soft and tender by the time the fish has cooked through. Preserved lemon and olives add acidity, complexity, and salty punch to the broth. To produce moist, flaky cod, turn off the heat once the broth is bubbling at the bottom of the pot and allow the fish to cook in the residual heat.
You can substitute red snapper or haddock for the cod as long as the fillets are 1 to 1½ inches thick. Picholine or Cerignola olives work well in this recipe. Serve this dish with flatbread, couscous, or rice.
12 ounces skinless cod fillets (1 to 1½ inches thick), cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon table salt, divided
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ onion, sliced through root end ¼ inch thick
½ green bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch strips
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced on bias
¼ inch thick¾ cup canned diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons pitted green olives, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon
Place cod in bowl and toss with ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
Pulse cilantro leaves, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne in food processor until cilantro and garlic are finely chopped, about 12 pulses. Add lemon juice and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in 1½ tablespoons oil. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1½ tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, olives, and preserved lemon. Spread mixture in even layer on bottom of saucepan.
Toss cod with cilantro mixture until evenly coated, then arrange cod over vegetables in single layer. Cover and cook until cod starts to turn opaque and juices released from cod are simmering vigorously, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand, covered, until cod is opaque and just cooked through (cod should register 140 degrees), 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.