I’ve always been enchanted by the very Victorian concept of a fish-course. There’s something incredibly luxurious and decadent about it – a whole chapter of a meal dedicated to one element alone. By the mid-Victorian period, the advance of the railways meant that a ready supply of fish ‘on-ice’ could be supplied to the inland cities. This introduced an abundance of fresh seafood to the urban dining-plate and provided a cheap form of protein to the masses (fish & chips!).
One of the great joys of a fish-course such as this, is that it’s super fast to prepare because fish cooks so quickly. It’s also incredibly easy to do, with very little fuss. This recipe can equally be served as a starter or luncheon dish. Team it with fresh salad or steamed green vegetables such as beans, broccoli or mange-tout. Because it’s low in carbohydrate, it can be enjoyed by those on a ketogenic diet, diabetics, paleo-fans & gluten-intolerants. There’s no excuse therefore – go ahead & give it a go!
Thinly slice a couple of shallots and crush 2 cloves of garlic. Soften these in a saute-pan in plenty of butter. Once translucent, add your cod to the pan. There’s no need to turn the fish, so just clear a space amidst the onions and place it in. Turn the heat up and pour on a good glug of vermouth (unsweetened), followed by a little water. You want the liquid to come up to ‘waist-height’ on the fish. Season the sauce and place the lid on the pan for three to five minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets.
You’ll know the fish is done when it starts to ‘flake’ on top. Because we’re not turning it, this is our sign that it’s cooked all the way through. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese and stir to dissolve the lumps. Lift the fish carefully onto a warmed plate with a fish-slice or palette knife. Then quickly transfer the pan to the hot-plate and give the sauce a quick blast to fully incorporate the cream cheese & reduce. Finally, finely chop some fresh-basil and add this to the sauce, checking one last time for seasoning.
Ladle your sauce over the fish and shave on generous curls of parmesan cheese. Rush straight to the table and enjoy. Delicious, delicious, delicious!
Thanks for reading and bon ap!