Mild Indian Cod Curry for the Whole Family

How have you all been? I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday – for those of us based in the UK we were blessed with three days of brilliant sunshine. I’m aware I have not posted an Indian recipe for a while so I hope that this one will greatly please you.

If your spice cupboard is fairly limited and you want a quick but satisfying curry, then this mild cod curry definitely ticks the box. It’s a crowd pleaser for the whole family as it is only delicately spiced and the one fresh chilli that I do add, I make sure it does not go onto the plate of any unsuspecting guest or family member. I adore purchasing fresh curry leaves from my friends down in Tooting, but I find that they freeze really well, so I always have a good supply ready to use. If finding fresh is tricky, then dried will be a good stand-in, although fresh is ideal.

Mild Indian Cod Curry

serves 4

2 tbsp oil

10 fresh curry leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder

1 thin green chilli, stalk removed

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp ginger paste

1 heaped tsp garlic paste

3 medium sized tomatoes, diced

1 heaped tsp of tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

1x400g can of coconut milk

1 large cod fillet, skinned and cubed

 

  1. Add the oil in a large non stick wide pan and when it is hot add the curry leaves, cumin seeds and turmeric powder. Move around the pan for 20 seconds before adding the onion.
  2. Gently cook away for 6 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger past. Cook for a further 4 minutes.
  3. Now add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  4. Add the coconut mild and let it simmer for a few minutes before adding the cod pieces.
  5. Continue to simmer for up to five minutes with a lid on the pan, stirring gently once or twice. You do not want to break up the cod pieces so be careful. Take off the heat to rest.

Serve with rice or paratha and some fresh lemon on the side. If you want some accompanying greens this recipe is great and super quick.


Coconut, Coriander and Mint Cod and an exciting competition

IMG_9515Being an island nation we tend to be more conscious of our seas and the fish within them than perhaps landlocked countries. That said I have always wondered why, like the Japanese, we don’t eat more fish in our diet. Growing up my parents would always have fish on Friday, which was pretty typical of Christian families of their generation. Today however, I don’t wait for Friday to have fish and on average we probably eat seafood a couple of times a week.

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I try to be as innovative as possible (see here for my post on foraging for cockles)  in the way that I prepare and cook it. Grilled or baked fish with a squeeze of lemon or fish pie is all very delicious but there are so many other ways to cook seafood that I hope the recipe that I will show you today will encourage you to give it a try and that it will become part of your culinary repertoire.

Recently I was contacted by LOAF App, (short for ‘love of all food’),  to come up with an exciting recipe focusing on the theme of ‘fusion’ that will go onto the app and be part of a competition (more about that in a moment). For those of you who have not yet heard of LOAF, it is a fabulous new recipe app, that is free to download, that has a wide range of recipes from bloggers and chefs, in a standardised format that is easy to follow and replicate at home. You can even add your own recipes and share them with other users. (Write ups on the app here and here).

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LOAF is working in partnership with the MSC Fisheries Standard (Marine Stewardship Council) on an exciting campaign, which gets the public cooking whilst being more informed on which seafood we should be buying. As part of the competition I have focused on fish that has the MSC Fisheries Standard blue label (see photo above). My recipe is now live on the LOAF app site for you to cook at home. You then need to photograph your efforts of my recipe, put them up on the LOAF site and I will then judge the winner of who I think made my dish best. The winner will be awarded £75 worth of free food shopping from either Sainsburys (UK), Wholefoods (US) and Coles (Australia).

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85% of the worlds’ seafood are either at capacity or over fished. Buying seafood therefore that has the MSC blue label sticker on it is something that we all need consciously to do if we are to protect our oceans for future generations. The label tells the consumer that the seafood product you are buying is ‘certified sustainable seafood’. Fisheries are assessed to check if they are well-managed and sustainable. I urge you to look at the following Youtube video explaining the Fisheries Standard’s principles and scoring.

The standard has been developed in consultation with scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups. Today we are all more conscious of food origin and therefore by buying MSC blue label food is a no brainer as it is fully traceable to a sustainable source. The MSC Fisheries Standard have also put together a product finder so that you can find sustainable fish and seafood wherever you are in the world. Take a look here to see how it works.

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So the recipe that I have come up with takes 15 minutes max to prepare and half of that is making the paste. It’s origin is from Kerala and I recently watched a similar recipe being made. I have been doing something similar for years, albeit without the coconut addition. It is steamed as opposed to baked, grilled or fried. If you want to be truly authentic you can source a banana leaf to wrap it in, failing that baking parchment works just fine. Rice would be perfect to accompany this dish. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try and post your photograph up on the LOAF app site. EASY.

Coconut, Coriander and Mint Cod 

Paste ingredients

2 large handful of fresh mint leaves, stems removed

1 large handful of fresh coriander leaves, stems can remain intact

1 tsp of fresh grated ginger

1 tsp of grated garlic

1 green chilli, finely chopped

50g either freshly grated coconut or desiccated coconut

 1 limes, juice only

salt, to taste

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1kg cod loins (MSC blue label)

baking parchment

  1. Put all the paste ingredients together in a blender to make a fine paste. Add salt to taste at the end.
  2. Cut the baking parchment so that it wraps over the cod loin completely.
  3. Place the paste all over the top of the fish and lay it in the centre of the baking parchment.
  4. Carefully wrap the fish so that the ends are completely enclosed.
  5. Warm a frying pan (or Indian tawa if you have one) and when it is hot lay the cod parcel onto the pan. It will cook by the steam that will be created within the parcel. After 4 minutes turn the fish parcel over for another 4 minutes. If it looks as if it needs a little longer leave it for another minute and it should be ready.

Note: You can also use banana leaf instead of baking parchment. If using a banana leaf you need to hold the leaf carefully over a gas flame in a sweeping motion so that it softens. Do this on both sides and then cut it down to size so that the fish can be completely covered by the leaf.

You can bake the fish in the oven (180 degrees) for 15 minutes if you prefer but I suggest wrapping the fish in baking parchment papillote style – see here so that it does not dry out and steams itself whilst cooking.


Crispy Skin Cod with White Beans, Padron Peppers, Spinach, Dill and Aioli

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Not so long ago I had a really memorable lunch at Vinoteca in Farringdon. It’s a really relaxed, unstuffy little restaurant with wooden floor boards, a huge (285 if you want to get precise) selection of wines to drink there or buy to take away and a very fine menu of seasonal tasty food. I had this wonderful hake and beans dish with pardon peppers, spinach and aioli and flecks of dill. It was SO good I swore I would  replicate the dish at home and share it all with you.

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For the fish connoisseurs among you you will notice that I have replaced hake with cod. My preference would have been to use hake but as I had recently bought cod to make cod fritters I decided to use that up instead. If you can find hake however I would suggest using that as it holds together far better than cod, which tends to be flakier. In fact any firm white fish would work well.

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The hardest parts of this dish are making the aioli which can be tricky. In an ideal world I would have liked mine a little less runny but the taste and creaminess were spot on. Cooking fish can also be tricky as you want it to have crispy skin and for it not to dry out. You want to make sure the fish is completely dry before cooking so place it on kitchen paper and then add a splash of oil to the skin and season with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick pan and when it is hot place the fish skin side down for around 4 minutes and then turn over and cook for a further 3. You then should remove from the pan and let it rest whilst you plate up the rest of the dish. If it breaks up, don’t worry it will also taste great in pieces within the beans instead of on top of them.

Padron peppers are available right now in the larger super markets. They come from Southern Spain and Morocco and complement this dish really well. They take a couple of minutes to cook so are quick and easy to prepare like the spinach.

A lot of my blog followers have told me how much they love my ‘chickpea, chorizo and cod stew with fresh parsley‘ so I hope that this one will also become one of your new go-to recipes.

Crispy Skin Cod with White Beans, Padron Peppers, Spinach, Dill and Aioli 

Serves 4

Homemade Aioli

1 garlic, finely grated

1 large egg yolk

2 tsp water

1/4 tsp salt

sprinkling of freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juice only (or to taste)

1. In an electric blender or whisk, blend the garlic, egg yolk, salt, water and pepper together. Then add the Dijon mustard and blend again.

2. Then add the oils a teaspoon at the time, continuing to whisk as you do so. Keep doing this until the sauce has thickened and emulsified.

Taste and add more lemon or salt as you require. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Crispy Skin Cod with White Beans, Padron Pepper, Spinach and Dill 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1 carrot, finely sliced

1 garlic bulb, finely chopped

540g white beans (this will include the water that they sit in)

1 vegetable stock cube

100ml boiling water

175g fresh fish per serving (700g if feeding 4 people)

135g padron peppers

260g fresh spinach

handful of fresh dill

1 lemon, cut into 4 to serve

1. Heat a pan and add the olive oil and when it is hot add the shallots, carrots and salt on a medium heat.

2. After 5 minutes add the garlic and cook for an extra couple of minutes before adding the white beans (including the water they are in). In addition add the extra boiling water and a vegetable stock cube.

3. Simmer on a low heat for up to 10 minutes, adding more boiling water if it becomes too dry.

4. Meanwhile heat a different non stick pan. Clean each portion of fish and pat dry with kitchen paper. If it has skin place a little olive oil onto the skin along with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the pan is really hot add the fish skin side down for around 4 minutes. Do not move the pan of fish for this time as it will make the fish fall apart. After 4 minutes, gently flip the fish over and cook for a further 3 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to rest on a warm place whilst you prepare the spinach and padron peppers.

5. Using the same pan as the fish add a tablespoon of olive oil and add the pardon peppers. Move them around the pan so that they burn slightly on each side and begin to wilt and soften. This will take around 3 minutes. Place to one side on a warm plate.

6. Using the same pan as the pardon peppers add the fresh spinach and a splash of water and move around the pan for up to a minute, by which time it will have wilted.

To plate up add the beans and carrots stew then add the spinach and pardon peppers. Lay the fish on top and then pop a dollop of aioli by the fish and sprinkle some dill over the dish. Add a quartered lemon to each serving.

Serve immediately so it is nice and hot.


Chickpea, Chorizo and Cod Stew with Fresh Parsley

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My household are on a bit of a cod roll this week. There’s rather a lot of it in the freezer so we decided to cook cod a different way for three nights running – a little bit of a challenge and to prove that you can cook with the same key ingredient in different ways and make it taste completely different. Yesterday it was a Kerala fish curry with my toor dal and tonight we are having my three C stew; the three C’s being chickpea, chorizo and cod. It’s so darn delicious you’ll have to have especially strong willpower to stop yourself picking up your plate and licking every last drop of sauce. I find serving it with fresh crusty bread normally works a treat where mopping is concerned.

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Like most of the recipes on my blog it is very straight forward and if you don’t eat meat you can simply leave out the chorizo as you will still get the wonderful smokiness from the sweet paprika. The basic sauce can be cooked in advance and then the cod added five minutes before you are ready to eat, so it’s also perfect if you are cooking for a crowd and want to just enjoy the moment instead of slaving over a stove when they arrive. I also find that it works well as a very comforting and satisfying mid week meal. In fact it’s perfect to eat at any time, although I would probably pass if it were served at breakfast.

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Like a good old Victoria sponge cake there are many versions of cooking this dish, but here is mine. Let me know what you think. Oh and for those wondering what I will do tomorrow night, well I’ll probably do a tom yam broth with cod instead of prawns or maybe my Cha Ca La Vong – recipe here we’ll see which way the wind will blow in the morning.

Have a good weekend folks.

Chickpea, Chorizo and Cod Stew

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

150g spicy Spanish chorizo, sliced or cubed

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp rock salt

1/2 a 400g tin of plum tomatoes

1 tsp of tomato puree

100ml red wine

300ml boiling water

2 tsp agave nectar (or caster sugar)

400g tin of chickpeas, drained (240g after drained)

500g cod, skinned and cut into 2cm cubes

handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

optional: bread for mopping up the juices

1. In a large pan heat the olive oil on a medium heat and when hot add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for another 3 minutes so that the onion is soft and beginning to bronze.

2. Add the chopped chorizo and continue to fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweet paprika, rock salt and stir into the ingredients, which will have taken on a deep red colour.

3. Add the plum tomatoes, which you then need to cut up, red wine, tomato puree, boiling water, chickpeas and agave nectar. Let the sauce gently bubble away for 20 minutes. If it becomes too dry add a little more boiling water. Taste and see if you like the balance of sweet and salty, adjust if necessary.

4. Five minutes before eating add the cod and cover with the sauce. Do not stir too much as you do not want the cod to flake. If you can place a lid on the pan as it will allow the fish to cook through nicely.

5. Serve into bowl/plates with a scattering of fresh parsley on top and fresh bread to mop up the sauce.


Cha Ca La Vong – Vietnamese Fish with Turmeric, Ginger and Dill

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The melodic sounding ‘Cha Ca La Vong’ is one of Hanoi’s famous dishes consisting of white fish (often Vietnamese Snakehead fish) along with fresh turmeric, galangal, ginger, the pungent smelling Vietnamese shrimp paste, spring onions, rice noodles and a generous helping of fresh dill, coriander and mint and a scattering of peanuts.

My version is all of the above except no galangal (unless I happen to chance upon it), turmeric powder instead of fresh turmeric and no Vietnamese shrimp paste. I also find cod or tilapia work best for me, but basically you can use any thick white fish that has been filleted and does not have a propensity to fall apart.

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The flavour combinations work so well and I find it refreshing to give dill centre stage once in a while as I tend to find that it only ever gets partnered with salmon, trout and creme fraiche. The textures also really compliment each other, from the soft and yet delicately fried fish, to the crunchy nuts, the fresh flavoursome herbs and the filling noodles.  I like to accompany the dish with my sweet and sour nuoc cham dipping sauce – see here (at the bottom of the post).

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It’s one of those dishes which is perfect for guests to get stuck in and help themselves.  Part of the fun of it is to create the dish yourself, choosing the amounts of herbs that suit your requirements. I also find that when guests help themselves there is far less wastage as people, on the whole, tend to take what they are going to eat.  Both my daughters adore the dish and for my youngest I tend to make up a separate nuoc cham dipping sauce without fresh chilli.

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Cha Ca La Vong – Vietnamese Fish with Turmeric, Ginger and Dill

Serves 4

600g cod or tilapia, cut into 2 inch chunks

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (equally you could use ginger paste)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or as above)

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

3/4 tbsp of vegetable oil

6 spring onions, thinly cut on the diagonal

bunch of fresh dill

bunch of fresh coriander

bunch of fresh mint

1 generous handful of unsalted peanuts, slightly crushed

300g rice noodles

1. Place the fish chunks, turmeric, ginger, garlic, flour, sugar and fish sauce in a bowl and gently mix in together so that the fish is completely coated in the turmeric. Cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

2. Cook the rice noodles according to the packet (normally I boil them for 4 mins) and drain. Run cold water through them and place to one side. When ready to serve pour boiling water through it once, drain and place in a serving bowl.

4. In a different bowl place the fresh coriander and mint and in another place the peanuts.

5. Prepare the nuoc cham dipping sauce. For four people you will need to make two batches of this – see here.

6. In a frying pan add the oil and when it is hot add the fish in batches along with any remaining ginger and garlic from the marinade. Leave for a 2-3 minutes so they begin to crisp before turning over for another couple of minutes. Place the fish on kitchen roll whilst you are cooking the remaining fish chunks.

7. Once the fish has crisped up sufficiently add the dill and the spring onions for up to a minute before placing in a large serving bowl.

8. Allow guests to serve themselves, showing them how to layer up the dish by first placing the noodles in a bowl, followed by the fish, spring onions and dill, mint and coriander, peanuts and then a little nuoc cham dipping sauce over the top.


Fish Balls in a Sweet Smoked Paprika and Tomato Sauce

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After spending the whole of the Easter holidays in Asia, both Hong Kong and Vietnam, it is great to finally come home to London;  as the saying goes: ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. Whilst I loved ever minute of our travels from exploring new environs, cultural sites, the beach (of course) and experiencing the amazing cuisine that both countries have to offer, there is something wonderfully homely and satisfying about preparing your own meals and sourcing your own ingredients. Mark Bittman from ‘The New York Times’ has written a fascinating article on why home cooked food is the way to go. Check it out here.  Crazy as this may sound, I kind of missed not getting stuck into some serious cooking, that said I was very lucky to get a place at ‘The Green Bamboo Cooking School’ in Hoi An, which gave me a wealth of new exciting Vietnamese recipes to cook and share with you all.

Hong Kong is pork crazy and whilst I love my pork, I decided that fish and vegetarian meals were going to be on the menu, certainly for the first week or two once I returned. The very first meal I cooked when I got back were these lovely fish balls, which are so easy to put together. Big A loved getting involved and helping me to prepare them. I made a large batch and then had the leftovers for lunch the following day.

Serve with couscous, rice or pasta and you have yourself a simple and deliciously healthy meal. I did not put any fresh chilli in either the sauce or fish balls, but you could easily pop in a finely chopped one if you are in need of that extra spicy kick!

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Fish Balls in a Sweet Smoked Paprika and Tomato Sauce

adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s recipe ‘Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce’ in their book Jerusalem.

Serves 4

sauce

glug of olive oil

2 small/medium sized white onions, finely chopped

1/2 (half) tsp of sweet smoked paprika – I use and totally rate this one

1 heaped tsp cumin powder

1 tsp salt

125ml white wine

1 tin of chopped tomatoes, blended

1 tsp caster sugar

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

150ml water

fish balls

600g cod (or any white fish that has been sustainably caught), boned and skin removed

100g white breadcrumbs

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 large handful of flat leaf parsley

1 large handful of fresh coriander

1. First you need to start making the sauce. Place a glug (a little) olive oil into a large frying pan and when it is hot add the onions. Stir and turn the heat down slightly to make sure that they do not burn. As they begin to soften after a few minutes add the sweet paprika, cumin powder and salt and then after a couple more minutes add the garlic and stir together. Leave to cook steadily for a few minutes.

2. Next add the white wine and stir into the spiced onions and let simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the blended tinned tomatoes (it is not essential to blend, but I like having the sauce slightly smoother for this recipe) and caster sugar. Stir together and simmer gently for 20 minutes on a low heat so that the flavours can mature and work together.

3. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl use your hands to blend all the fish ball ingredients together and then roll in the palm of your hands small, bite sized, round fish balls. I made around 30 with these proportions.

4. In a large frying pan heat a glug of olive oil. When it is hot gently place the fish balls in the pan so that they are lightly bronze. I suggest doing this in stages as it takes no more than a few minutes cooking time – remember to turn them over so that they are bronzed all over.

5. After you have bronzed your first batch place them gently in the sweet smoked paprika and tomato sauce and continue to add the rest of the fish balls until they are all sitting in the sauce. Add a little water – around 150ml, or a little more if needed, so that the fish balls are just covered and then let simmer on a low heat for a further 15 minutes. Add more seasoning if necessary.

6. Serve hot with couscous, rice or pasta.

Good old comfort food. Enjoy. It’s good to be home.


Roasted Cod with Fennel, Red Onion and Tomatoes in a Lemony Balsamic Jus

OK I admit it, I wasn’t telling the whole truth when I put together the grand title for this dish. It only takes a passing glance at the photo above for you to see that there is a sprinkling of fresh chilli in this dish. It’s totally NOT essential, so if your palate prefers the absence of chilli – or if you are feeding it to little ones, then please omit the chilli part as it still tastes really good.

We try and eat fish and seafood a couple of times a week, which reminds me, I must put up another of my squid recipes as squid gets a big thumbs up in our household. My six year old, known as big A in this blog (as she is my eldest daughter) has loved it for as long as I can remember; she is a joy to cook for as she eats and tries everything. She has her sights set on junior Masterchef, way to go girl.

This dish is perfect with white fish and cod works particularly well as it does not flake too readily during cooking. This dish is rustic and juicy and has the definite thumbs up from Mr B. There are a lot of flavours going on in the dish, from the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar, red onions and tomatoes to the subtle aniseed taste of the fennel and the wonderful kick from the chilli. I find they compliment each other so well, I hope you agree.

Roasted Cod with Fennel, Red Onion and Tomatoes in a Lemony Balsamic Jus

Adapted from a recipe by ‘Delicious Magazine’

Serves 2-4

600 g filleted cod

1 red onion, roughly chopped

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (set the fronds to one side)

juice of one lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 large red chilli, sliced (not essential)

seasoning, as required


1. Prepare the fennel, red onion and chilli and place in an oven proof dish with 1 tbsp of olive oil and the juice from one lemon. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees if you are using a fan oven and 20 degrees more if you are not or gas mark 6, for 10 minutes

2. Add the tomatoes and roast for a further 5 minutes. Now place the cod fillets, balsamic vinegar and remaining olive oil on the vegetables and roast for 10-12 minutes. Do not overdo the cooking of the fish as it will begin to dry out. It needs less cooking time than you think!

3. Serve immediately with the fennel fronds scattered on top to garnish. I like to eat this with rice, although it would also work equally well with little cubed roast potatoes.