Crusty Cod

There was a huge lump of cod in the supermarket this evening.

And some leftover pesto, so I did this.

And it ended up like this.

Mmmm. (Although the crust could have gone a bit browner.)

This is a recipe that will appeal to those of you who fancy a bit of engineering as you need to make a crust, and get it onto the fish, without mangling the fish. The crust is there to stop the fish from drying out, and to become gratifyingly brown and crunchy.

Here’s what I used:

  • a 300g piece of cod fillet, without any skin (serves two)
  • 90g of leftover pesto (because that was how much I had)
  • 70g of breadcrumbs (as it looked about right)
  • 25g of Parmesan (or any kind of Grana)

…and this is what I do…

  1. Place the fish in a small baking dish, with a dab of olive oil or butter to stop it sticking.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs, pesto and Parmesan in a bowl. At this point it will be a bit fluffy, and impossible to put over the fish, so what I do is push the mixture against the side of the bowl with a spoon (and then my fingers) until it’s quite thin and quite solid. (I had goop all over my hands at this point, so no photo, sorry.) You could probably also do this with a rolling pin, but that would make for more washing up.
  3. I then use a butter knife to lever off the crust from the side of the bowl and lay it on the fish – it should cover not only the top, but the sides – nothing worse than a piece of fish with a crust the size of a small biscuit. (This means the restaurant has made the crust separately and earlier, and has simply popped it on your steamed/microwaved fish.)
  4. I plonk the dish into a pre heated oven at 180ºC – regular readers will know that mine is a fan forced – so you might want to set your gas oven to about 200ºC.
  5. After 15 minutes, it should be done. I stick a palette knife through the centre part of the fish (where I’m going to divide it into two portions) to see if the flesh comes apart easily and it doesn’t. As this piece is about an inch thick, I’m not too bothered, so pop it in for another five minutes.

A squirt of lemon, some new potatoes, and a cold beer are all that are needed to complete the picture.

That’s right. Beer. You’re probably used to being intimidated by the waiter into buying a thirty quid bottle of Chablis, but what white fish needs is some good beer.

Variations

You could…

  • use salmon instead of cod
  • add a splash of lemon juice to the crust mixture
  • use salsa verde instead of pesto

Come to think of it, you could (and I haven’t tried this) make a crust based on some kind of spice/curry paste, and maybe couscous instead of breadcrumbs. That might be interesting.

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