And After All That....A Gentle Supper

After working on something challenging like the Cochon du Tete, not to mention the surfeit of food we had over Easter, I placed a moratorium on stodgy food. So, whilst you guys have been reading about us being elbow deep in pig head, we have actually been treating our stomachs to lighter fare. Pasta with Cauliflower, Stir Fry and last nights cholesterol friendly dish.
I have raved about Lindsay Barehams latest cookbook, The Fish Store, for some while now and each time I read it, I find another exciting and quick supper dish.
Paul and I love Puy Lentils, we had some packets of herbs wilting in the refrigerator (do we have anything that isn't wilting in the fridge?) and some frozen cod. This particular dish, Poached Cod with Puy Lentils and Salsa Verde had our name written all over it.
Ahh, about the Cod. I had seen it lurking in the freezer a few weeks ago and presumed that I had bought it a few weeks ago. When I read the Use By date it said 20th year mentioned but I optimistically assumed 2006. Sure, I was wary about using nearly year old frozen fish but I wanted to cook that dish, I had no expendable cash to buy fresh and there it was.
So, on thawing it looked somewhat dessicated, more like my Salt Cod stash than fresh Cod. I figured poaching it would bring it back round. And, to a certain extent it did. Of course it wasn't as moist or flaky as fresh Cod but it still tasted fine and I sit here typing this with no gastro-intestinal disorders to speak of. Yet.
If you want to replicate this recipe, I would certainly recommend buying a fresh piece though! The flavours are so simple that the quality of each one is paramount. You do need to make the Salsa Verde or something similar because that tangy, herby sauce brings the lentils and fish together in a fantastic way. Plus, whatever herbs you have, whatever time of year it is, you can whizz up and make something that tastes fresh and tastebud tinglingly good. Salsa Verde is particularly wonderful with any fish, but you could also toss warm new potatoes in it or serve it with a rich meat, like lamb. The recipe given below is Barehams own, but providing you retain the base elements of tartness (if you don't like mustard, perhaps add a dash of wine vinegar), pungency (garlic and anchovies) and the green herbiness, you can just run with the ball.
2 Fillets of Fresh Cod, skin removed
Juice of One Lemon
250g Puy Lentils
1 Onion, peeled and studded with one clove
Bay Leaf
Chicken Stock Cube
40g Fresh Parsley, stalks removed
Some Mint Leaves
Some Basil Leaves
2-4 Anchovies to taste
Some Capers to taste
Olive Oil
1-2 Cloves Garlic, depending on how garlicky you want it, obviously
Mustard to Taste
To make the Salsa Verde, which only improves when kept in the fridge overnight, place the roughly chopped garlic in a spice grinder, along with the herbs, anchovies, capers, mustard and a good slug of olive oil. Note: If you are using Wine Vinegar instead of Mustard, do not add as much Olive Oil.
Process until it forms a lumpy green mixture. You will probably need to add more Olive Oil if at this point it resembles compressed grass cuttings. You want it to be the texture of a tomato salsa so quite slack. Taste for seasoning and add a good grind of salt and pepper and process some more. Add more of any of the above ingredients if you feel it needs it. And that's it!
To make the Lentils, place the studded onion, bay leaf and about 300ml cold water in a saucepan with the stock cube and lentils. Bring to the boil then turn down to a low simmer. Puy Lentils take anywhere between 20-40 minutes to cook, depending on the brand etc. Once they are cooked they will not be mushy but have a delightful nutty bite to them without being tooth-crackingly hard. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Do not oversalt as the stock cube will already be fairly salty and lentils soak up flavours like a sponge.
To make the cod, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the lemon juice. Gently drop the cod fillets into your replicated brine and bring to the boil once more. Turn off and leave for five minutes. Drain using a slotted spoon to avoid the flesh breaking up and place on a plate with the lentils and a large spoonful of the salsa verde.


Meeta said...

What an awesome combination. Fish and Lentils! Wonderful idea!

ostwestwind said...

Lentils and cod, that sounds yummy!

ros said...

I think puy lentils are great too and putting the cod with the sounds like a meal with a great combination of textures.

Good work with that pig's head. I wish I had the time/space/flat free from squeamish people to have a go at that myself.

Kelly-Jane said...

Lentils and cod does sound good.

I always seem to be doing the same with my fridge full - using the must be used soon, as opposed to the amazing fresh bought today!


Kristen said...

I know this feeling. My husband competes in BBQ contests and the weeks prior to the competition we are constantly testing out his entries. After that is over, we just crave light and tasty dishes like veggies and fish. This looks like a great recipe to keep on hand for that time!

Kathryn said...

I like cod and lentils! A nice, simple, tasty combo...

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This is what I love to eat! I used to have to bring the puy lentils from Paris but now I can get them in several stores! They are my favorites. Excellent menu.

Joyce said...

What a lovely assortment of flavors and textures. Love the idea of the mild soft fish with the toothy lentils and the zing of the salsa. Would even like a Mexican salsa verde made from tomatillos and jalepeƱos with a little lime and cilantro to add more bite. Nice presentation.

pistachio said...

I love puy lentils and as you have discovered they go particularly well with fish. The salsa sounds like the perfect foil for the earthy taste of the lentils. Altogether a lovely meal.

pi xxx

sher said...

As a fish junky, I say "Fabulous!" I love pairing puy lentils with fish, it's so comforting. And the salsa verde is perfect.

Chris said...

This looks great! I do enjoy a good fish dinner. And, the freezer? Oh...mine needs a good cleansing of frozen "stuff". Wonder what would happen if I put it all in a huge stock pot and just cooked it? Hmmm... lol

tigerfish said...

Oops, I also have some frozen fish in the freezer *going to check the expiry now*

Have a great weekend :D

Gattina said...

Freya, my first try of salsa verde was last year, after seeing one at Ilva's blog. You are right, we should make it anytime! I've just bought a big pack of frozen cod, your lovely recipe comes in the right time =)

Katie said...

Your salsa verde looks like a good accompaniment to fish - light, healthy and not full of mayo (which mon mari dearly loves).
I know what you mean about finding stuff in the freezer....but, I figure, what can harm it if it's been frozen!?!