Martin Hollis celebrates the replenishment of British cod stocks with a tasty recipe for family and friends
British cod is well and truly back on the menu as stocks recover and it’s probably the most commonly used in traditional fish and chips, followed by haddock and plaice.
Cod is found all around the UK, most common in autumn and winter, although some remain throughout the year. Once a cod reaches 20-30lbs they tend to move away from shallower water and into the open sea.
My baked loin of cod with lemon and herb crust, served on warm potato salad and a dill vinaigrette, is a lovely summer dish to enjoy with family and friends – it serves 4 – and easy to prepare.
You’ll need four 125g fresh trimmed cod loins and 100g rock salt for curing the fish.
For the potato salad you’ll need 400g new potatoes, washed and scraped, 10g freshly chopped chives, 100g crème fraiche, salt and freshly ground pepper.
For the crust: 1 lemon, zested and sliced, 200g fresh white/brown bread sliced, 50g freshly grated parmesan, 15g flat leaf parsley, 50g melted butter, salt and freshly ground pepper.
For the dressing: 80ml olive oil, 1 clove garlic, good sprig of dill, 25g fennel, 1-star anise, 10ml white wine vinegar, 10g caster sugar, 2 pulped plum tomatoes, salt and pepper.
For the dressing, heat the oil, garlic, fennel, salt, half the dill and star anise, and leave to infuse. Strain the oil infusion. Place the sugar, vinegar and pepper into a basin and add the infusion, whisking all the time. Blend the vinaigrette with the remaining dill and reserve. Place the cod into a clean container and sprinkle liberally with the rock salt, place the lemon slices on top of the fish and toss in a few sprigs of fresh dill.
Cover and place in the refrigerator allowing the fish to cure for two hours.
Wash the parsley, place in a food processor with the bread, parmesan, lemon zest and seasoning, and whisk until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture into a clean container and stir in the melted butter until a soft dough is formed. Season to taste.
Place the dough between to sheets of clingfilm, press down gently and then roll out to form a 5mm thick crust. Place into the refrigerator to chill and rest.
Cook the new potatoes in salted water, drain and cut into bite size pieces, cover and keep warm for service. 10) Remove the fish from the refrigerator and wash off the salt under clean running water. This will need to be done at least twice. Pat dry on absorbent paper. 11) Take the crust from the refrigerator, place the fish onto the crust and cut to size. Place the fish onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a moderately hot oven. 12) Meanwhile, add the chopped salmon, chives, crème fraiche and seasoning to the potatoes, cover a keep warm. When the fish is cooked remove from the oven and allow resting for five minutes. Warm half the dressing in a small pan and toss in the prawns, asparagus and tomatoes.
Take 4 warm serving bowls and place 4 x 8cm rings into each. Fill each ring with the potato salad, and then gently remove the ring. Top the potato salad with the resting fish. Take the warm dressing with garnish and spoon liberally into, and around the base of each bowl. Spoon the remaining room temperature dressing over the fish and around the base of each bowl. Serve at once.
Chef’s tip: Wash the fish in cold water and dry it with a clean cloth or paper towels. Then wrap the clean fish in waxed paper, plastic wrap or aluminium foil, and store it on ice or in the refrigerator. You can usually store a fish in the refrigerator for up to two days.