We eat fish quite a bit: I pan fry whole porgies or cook them in a foil "pouch" with oregano, garlic and olive oil on a weekly basis. But more supple fillets of fish inherently prone to overcooking, usually pose a problem as they demand a bit more attention than I can offer on a weeknight.
It was only just recently I figured out a solution to this problem; it was only just recently I figured out that poaching fish in olive oil is an unbelievably forgiving method of cooking delicate fish that yields such amazingly tender, moist results. I cannot sing this method's praises enough: it's so simple and so easy, more importantly poaching really lets the fish shine and using good olive oil means it's healthy.
In this dish, I used some fresh cod, which is thick and meaty, but I'm certain halibut would work just as well here. I served the olive oil poached cod over mashed sweet potatoes flavored with grated ginger and a touch of cream as well as some sauteed broccoli rabe with pine nuts toasted with a dash of cayenne pepper. The kids gobbled it all up and even asked for seconds. Need I say more?
Olive Oil Poached Cod, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Pine Nuts
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh cod
2 large sweet potatoes
Ground ginger, to taste
Dash of ground nutmeg
Tablespooon of butter or a splash of heavy cream
1 bunch broccoli rabe, bottom 2 inches of stems removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
To start with, clean and peel the potatoes and cook them in boiling water until fork tender (alternatively, clean the potatoes but don't peel; wrap them in foil and roast until tender; cool and then peel). Mash them either with a potato masher or in a food processor, then stir in the ground ginger, ground nutmeg, butter or heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and rewarm when ready to serve.
For the broccoli rabe, rinse the stems and remove any thick or damaged leaves. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the broccoli rabe for just a couple of minutes. Remove the broccoli rabe to a colander and drain well. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the pine nuts and a dash of cayenne. Shake the skillet frequently until the pine nuts are toasted and golden. Remove the pine nuts from the skillet and set aside. Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to the skillet along with the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Toss in the broccoli rabe and the pine nuts and combine well with the olive oil until heated through. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
For the cod, heat some olive oil (enough to just cover the cod) in a dutch oven or deep skillet over very low heat. Cut the cod into individual portions, season with salt and pepper and carefully add it to the oil. Let the cod poach in the olive oil (keep the heat at low) until opaque and just cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the fillets.
Place the mashed sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe on the plate and carefully remove cod with a spatula and place over the potatoes to serve.
Try adding some fresh herbs or sliced garlic to the poaching oil so as to infuse the fish with those flavors as well.
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