The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Cod for Breakfast?

March 28th, 2014 · No Comments · Posted in Recipes


One of the great features of our local food co-op is the fresh seafood trucked in each week from Boston. On Tuesday’s we get an e-mail from the co-op with a list of choices. We place our order and usually by sometime Thursday afternoon it’s ready to be picked up. Last week I tried something a little different for us: “West Coast” cod.

This is a delicious white fish, but it mustn’t be overcooked. I prepared it with onions and herbs on the stove top, where you can monitor closely how the fish is cooking.

First, in a large pan saute 1 onion, cut into lengthwise slices, in plenty of extra-virgin olive oil. When the onions begin to soften, add about 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1 tablespoon capers, a lemon cut into thin wheels and your favorite herbs, such as tarragon and parsley. I used fresh basil because that’s what we had on hand. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the onions are soft and the flavors diffuse.

If the mix in the pan looks a little dry, add more wine and bring it up to heat. At this point you can add your fish–1 pound cod filet cut into serving pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and gently cook until the fish is just done.

Measuring doneness in fish can be a bit tricky. The classic advice is to cook until the fish begins to flake, which doesn’t really take into account the carry-over cooking that takes place after you remove the fish from the pan. I like to insert a metal trussing skewer into the thickest part of the fish. It should be just warm–not hot–when you touch the skewer to your lip.

In the fine tradition of leftovers for breakfast, I reheated some of the cod and served it next to home-grown fried eggs and some braised cabbage.

Before I buy fish, I check the recommendations of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to make sure I’m not making a huge environmental faux pas. In this case I couldn’t be sure I was getting a correct match because our Boston supplier labeled the fish “West Coast” cod, while Seafood Watch refers only to “U.S. Pacific” cod. In addition, the information we received didn’t indicate how the fish was caught. Seafood Watch classifies Pacific cod as either “best choice” if caught by longline, handline or  trap, or “good alternative”–one step down–if caught by trawling.

Seafood Watch urges consumers to “avoid” some varieties of fish, including cod caught in the Gulf of Maine, the George’s Bank or the Canadian Atlantic where the species historically has been severely over-fished. As a service to members interested in seafood sustainability, I’ve suggest our co-op adopt Seafood Watch as our official reference, and try to get our Boston fishmonger to align the information he provides with the recommendations published by Monterey Bay aquarium.

Trying to be an environmentally sensitive seafood consumer can be a daunting task, there is so much confusion in the labeling of fish. I’m guessing many wholesalers don’t even know exactly where or how the seafood they sell is caught. We’ll see where my proposal takes us.

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