Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Steamed Aromatic Cod

Steam is what water becomes at 100C and if you have a pan that has a lidded steamer that slots into then it is a good way to cook - particularly delicate things. Steaming is the least intrusive of all cooking techniques – the color, texture and flavor of the food remain closer to what nature intended. Better still, steamed foods retain more nutrients and are lower in fat and calories than food cooked by other methods. Cooking this way brings about a subtle transformation in the ingredients you use. The steam can be scented with aromatics, which will in turn infuse flavour into the food as it cooks. It is a quick and healthy way to cook and I don't do it nearly enough.

So last Saturday night I was tempted by a recipe in Gordon Ramsay's Secrets to steam some cod. And it was marvellous.

It is very quick to make but you need to do a couple of things beforehand. First thing, wrap the fish in clingfilm and refrigerate it for the day. Then a couple of hours before you plan to eat, make the aromatic stock as it needs time to infuse. Then when it's dinner time, it's only five minutes away!

Aromatic Steamed Cod
2 cod steaks
1.5 litres water
6 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
10 cloves
2 tablespoons pink or Sichuan peppercorns
large handful parsley sprigs
few large thyme sprigs
1 large bay leaf
3 shallots, sliced
1/2 head garlic
1 vanilla pod, split
1 lemon, cut into 6 slices
about 8 large lettuce leaves to line your steamer
few small basil sprigs
few tarragon sprigs
few rosemary sprigs
light olive oil to drizzle
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Check the fish for any bones, and pull out any you find with tweezers. Wrap the fish tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for the day or overnight - this sets the shape.

Put the water into a large pan that has a steamer. Add all the spices, parsley, thyme, bay, garlic, vanilla and lemon slices. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let it infuse for an hour or two.

When ready to cook, unwrap the cod. Bring the aromatics water back to the boil. Line the base of the steamer with the lettuce leaves and scatter with the basil, tarragon and rosemary. Place the cod on top and season wiht salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

Fit the steamer over the pan of simmering water, cover and cook the fillets for 4-6 minutes. To test, check the flesh seems firm when pressed. Lift the fish onto warmed plates and serve with pilaff rice.

Afterwards, you can strain the solids from the stock and freeze it for another use, which would make for an ultra quick dinner.


Alexx said...

Wow - this sounds lovely!

bron said...

It's a really delicate thing when it's done with incredible flavour. There are a couple of steps but it is easy to make. And a serious wow factor when you serve it!