Vegetable Braised Black Cod
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Because of all the rain up here in Seattle, I've grown used to cooking more indoors. And that means using the oven, especially on colder winter nights lately. I happily trade my grill for use of my Creuset, where I can whip up wonderful one-pot meals that are super easy to clean up. This recipe is literally a Throw It In One Pot And Cook It meal. It uses black cod, also known as sablefish or butterfish, it's a firm white fish with super soft buttery texture that melts in your mouth. The fish is thick and stable enough for grilling (unlike halibut that literally falls apart), but also yields itself nicely to frying, roasting, and braising. I found that by braising the black cod in vegetable juices gave it an even more delicate texture that was heavenly.
I chose red bell pepper and zucchini for this recipe not only for color but also for their water retention. The idea here is to create a natural braising liquid by using naturally watery vegetables (bell peppers, onions, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes are all great choices) and then others like asparagus for crunch and texture to break up the softness of the rest of the dish. The only fat I use here is olive oil (which is good for you!), and simple fresh herbs for seasonings with salt and pepper. It's low fat, low calorie, and extremely flavorful.
Vegetable Braised Black Cod
3-4 fillets black cod, skin removed
extra virgin olive oil
about 10 pearl onions, skins removed and left whole (you can substitute with shallots)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 zucchini, ends chopped and sliced into strips
1/2 lb asparagus, rough ends trimmed and cut in half
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
splash of white wine (or 1 lemon, sliced)
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Season the black cod with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons) in a Dutch oven or le crueset. Add the onions or shallots and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper -- this will help them caramelize. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat turning occasionally. Add the bell pepper, zucchini, and asparagus all at once and mix in with the onions. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the garlic and bay leaf and mix in. Add the wine or lemon and basil and turn off heat. Layer the black cod right on top of the vegetable mixture, nuzzling the fillets to fit in snugly. Spoon a little of the vegetable mixture on top of the fillets and cover with lid. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until vegetables are very soft, a juice has been rendered, and the fish is cooked through but still soft and buttery. Drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil on top and serve hot.