June 16, 2015 – Hungry Uncle’s Kitchen
The warm weather is upon us and every young man’s thoughts turn to baseball………SCREEEEETCH…back it up. I must have regressed to an earlier generation. Undoubtedly from watching a rerun of Leave it to Beaver or some other 1950s mundanity….Don’t ask me why. I have no idea why I was watching it either. Perhaps yearning for a simpler time when people…well, quite frankly, who cares?!? What most of us really think about is how we can enjoy more time outside. The beach, the mountains, grilling, barbecuing……Sorry, there’s none of that here. Not even a hint of sand, pine trees, smoked meat or Hungry Uncle’s Bajan Barbecue Sauce. Even I couldn’t figure out a way to weave it into this recipe- not to mention sand tastes awful and pine trees are marginal at best. However, you will find some of the late spring’s bounty accompanying the light flavor of poached cod.
For the cod-
- About 1.25-1.5 lbs. of skinned, deboned cod cut into four equal portions. Black cod, aka Sablefish, is too strong and not appropriate for this dish.
- 1 quart of chicken stock
- A shallow pan large enough to hold the fish covered by the stock without too much extra room. If you use too large a pan you’ll have add extra stock.
For the warm salad-
- 1 cup of freshly shelled peas. If you can’t find them you can substitute frozen but for the love of the Jolly Green Giant NEVER used canned. YUK!
- ½ – ¾ cup of fresh strawberries. Again substitute frozen if you must.
- 2 tbsp. of shallots
- Smoked salt
- Sea salt
- Finely ground white pepper
- Juice of ½ lime
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
- A 3 quart pot
- A colander or large strainer
- Shell the peas. It’s easy. Just separate along the spine with your fingers and pop out the peas. Discards the pods or save for a vegetable stock.
- Rinse the strawberries, remove the green top and cut into quarters.
- Mince the shallots.
- Fill the pot about ½ way with water and bring to a boil.
- Add the peas, boil for about 60-90 seconds (if your peas are large opt for 90 seconds) and then drain them.
- Reduce the heat to low-medium, put the pot back on the stove and add 3 tbsp. butter.
- Once the butter has melted, add a pinch of salt (this help draw out the moisture) and the shallots. Sweat for about 3 minutes. Sweating is similar to sautéing but done at a lower heat and will soften the shallots without browning them.
- Add the strawberries, stir gently and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally. You want the peas to just barely be soft. You don’t want to lose the firmness of the fresh vegetable.
- Add one additional tbsp. of butter. Let it melt.
- Squeeze in the lime juice and stir. Pick out any seeds with a spoon
- Turn off the heat and season with the smoked sea salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
- Take your fish out of the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking. It will cook more evenly.
- While the shallots are sweating for the salad pour the stock into the pan and warm on medium-low heat. It should never come to a simmer or boil. You should be able to dip your finger without getting burnt.
- When the salad is done cooking place the fillets into the warm broth. It should take no more than 3-4 minutes to poach. If the fillets are of uneven thickness, start the thicker ones first. If a fillet is too thick to be covered by the broth you will have to carefully turn it over half-way through cooking by using a spatula and your fingers. The fish is very delicate at this point and can fall apart if you’re not careful.
- When the fish just starts to flake it will be done. Using a slotted spatula carefully transfer the fillets to a warmed plate and season with smoked salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with the strawberry and pea salad, drizzle some of the butter “dressing” over the fish and around the plate
Wasn’t that simple? Yes, there can be happiness without pork, beef or barbecue sauce. Until next time happy cooking and eating.