Cod doesn't just have to be oily, battered and served with chunk chips and peas, it has the potential to be lighter and far more exciting. This recipe is a credit to the versatility of this delicate, flaky fish. I adore the assortment of textures contained in this dish, the crispiness of the salted fish skin, the soft crunch of the pack choi and the yellow nuggets of sweetcorn. Although this recipe doesn't contain many ingredients, preparation and exact timing are key as your hands will be busy.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
x4 cod fillets with skins on (about 180g each)
2 tsp of sea salt
small knob of butter
235g (1 pack) pak choi or choy sum
2 ears of sweetcorn
1 tsp of salt
1 banana shallot, diced very finely
1 tsp of English mustard
A sprig of thyme
100ml of olive oil
50ml of cider vinegar
1 tsp of dark soy sauce
A pinch of garam masala
You will need a skillet pan and a frying pan for this recipe.
Start by preparing the corn vinaigrette. Toss the sweetcorn with a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of salt. Grill the corn in the skillet pan, turning them until their kernels begin to blacken then remove them from the pan and leave it aside. Once the cobs are cool, take them out of the pan. On a chopping board, remove the kernels with a knife.
Place the sliced shallot in a bowl. Add the mustard, thyme, cider vinegar, olive oil, garam masala and soy sauce, then stir together. Add the charred sweetcorn and then set the vinaigrette to the side for later.
Prepare the pak choi by stripping away the individual stalks gently. Then blanch them in a pan of boiling water for 1 min. Remove the stalks with a slotted spoon and then place in a bowl of iced water. This keeps the pak choi fresh and maintains its wonderful green color.
Season the cod fillets with salt. Put a slosh of olive oil in the skillet pan (no need to wash it from the sweetcorn) and heat until it begins to bubble, place the fillets skin side down in the pan. Cook the fish on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the tops of the fillets begin to change to white in color (rather than translucent), this step allows the skin of the fish to crispen nicely.
Add the knob of butter to the pan and flip the fish and turn off the heat, cooking the fish in the residual heat for 2 mins. (The cooking time of the fish will depend on the size of your fillets, if you have a couple of monsters from the fishmonger they make take longer. If you are in any doubt whether the fish is cooked, use a small fork to pull at the side of the fillet slightly, if the fish flakes and is opaque it is cooked.)
Remove the fish from the skillet and place on a heated plate.
Pour the vinaigrette into the pan, this will heat the vinaigrette and allow it to absorb the fish juices.
Now saute your pak choi with a dash of olive oil in a frying pan for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are soft but the stalks are still a little crunchy.
Serve by creating a bed of pak choi, placing the cod fillet on top and dotting the plate with the vinaigrette.