Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Baked cod with Herby Sourdough Crumbs and Cider Beurre Blanc

Three things I adore... Chunky cod, herby crumbs and beurre blanc.

Crumbs to top fish are so easy to make, and they add a really excellent texture to the softness of the fish.  They are just as good on a rack of lamb, or a vegetable gratin, so they are a useful thing to know how to make.

I had made some sourdough semolina bread... it was alright, but I wouldn't say it was amazing flavourwise.  Look.. it looks lovely doesn't it!

But it had almost no flavour and I was looking for a lovely wheaty depth from the semolina with just a tiny bit of sourdough tang. It had neither. It was just meh. So into the food processor it went and out came lovely chunky crumbs that I knew would be really crunchy when baked.

It is a matter of moments, though you probably do need a food processor or liquidiser to make the fresh breadcrumbs - sourdough isn't essential, I've even used packaged sliced bread to make this if that is all I have. In extremis you could use panko breadcrumbs though they won't have quite the right texture.

Finely chop and sweat an onion in a little oil -  don't let it brown - and then add a couple of ounces of butter and let that melt off the heat.  Add in enough breadcrumbs to make a sandy mixture.
Finely chop a fat handful of parsley - curly or flat leaf are both good - and add that with salt and pepper to the crumbs.

Grease a piece of parchment paper and lay the skinned fish fillets on it in a shallow baking dish.  Cover the fish with the crumbs patting them into place but not pushing them too flat, you want to keep the light crunch, not squash the bread into a flat pastry.  Bake the dish for 15 minutes then rest for a couple of minutes in a turned out oven whilst you make the beurre blanc sauce. Your fish should flake beautifully, and be lovely and pearly just like in the posh cookery shows..

It is rare that I bake or fry white fish without serving beurre blanc with it. The creamy yet sharp sauce brings out the very best in haddock or cod.   For this sauce I used cider, as I had it handy, but white wine is just as good.

Very finely chop a shallot and put into a small saucepan. Add a glass of white wine or cider and half a glass of white wine or cider vinegar. Don't season at this stage. Bring to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce to about 3 tablespoons.  Off the heat, add around 70 grams of unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and swirl the pan to melt the butter into the reduced wine. Add a finely chopped handful of parsley or dill - or chervil if you can get it - and season to taste - I used a good pinch of Essential Cuisine fish stock powder.  Use fairly quickly whilst the butter is still creamy.

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