This recipe is by Jamie Oliver which I cut out of a Sunday magazine about four years ago.
I made it maybe twice, then subsequently lost the recipe and have improvised ever since, without it having any detrimental culinary effects.
It takes about half an hour of prep., and the same again to cook using only one large pan and this recipe fed three very hungry punters this evening with second and third helpings.
You will need:
4 large cod fillets…one for each person plus a bit extra if you're hungry, bones removed
400g ripe red cherry tomatoes , cut in half
Small bunch of basil with extra for decoration
Oregano - better with some fresh leaves or not the end of the world with 1 tsp of dried oregano
About 100g pitted black olives, the plump greasy ones (not the jarred taut ones which taste of battery acid)
1/2 yellow courgette (optional and green is also good)
3 tblsp balsamic vinegar
3 tblsp capers
2 small red onion,finely sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 bulbs of fennel, very finely sliced
2 tblsp olive oil
Firstly prepare the cod fillets (note this is not difficult and I am worried that you will think that is too complicated and not bother - but it is worth the little extra effort)
Put the cod fillets on a plate and sprinkle with sea salt, cover and put in the fridge. This will remove any excess moisture from the cod and give it a firm texture as cod can be very delicate. This can be prepared either the night before or as little as an hour before service.
When you are ready to cook the cod, brush all the salt off. Bear in mind that the olives and capers are salty and this combination can be too intense - I found this out the hard way the last time by nearly poisoning my diners. I now tend to give the cod a very quick rinse under a cold tap and pat dry. This way will ensure that all excess salt is removed.
Then with a very sharp knife, score the skin in equal cuts.
In a shallow pan, heat 2 tblsp of olive oil and pan fry the cod, skin side down for about 4-5 minutes.
Remove each fillet and set aside. You will be placing each fillet into the sauce face down (skin side up) and you will want one side of it almost cooked through so you do not turn it in the pan.
In a large shallow open pan heat the olive oil and saute the onions, garlic and fennel for about 5-7 minutes until they are slightly soft. Then add the chopped tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar and let the mixture bubble slightly until the tomatoes have softened and the fennel has cooked a little more.Add the black olives and capers and continue to cook slowly for another few minutes.
Take each cod fillet and place, skin side up, into the hot vegetable sauce. Simply let this cook slowly until the fish is cooked through. When done, the fish will be opaque and will flake easily without being dry. This should not take more than 4-5 minutes.
To serve, warm the plates and spoon some of the vegetable sauce onto the plate and carefully place a fillet of cod on each one. Spoon some more tomato and vegetables over the top and sprinkle with torn basil leaves.
This is delicious served with crusty bread which has been sprinkled with olive oil, baked in a hot oven for 5 minute and then, upon oven-exit, rubbed with the cut-face of a clove of garlic.
Tonight, as I knew my diners were hungry, I added a few cooked new potatoes which were left over from my sons tea...this is perhaps not entirely true to the provencale tradition but its good and both seconds and thirds were eaten and the pan scraped. What more could a cook wish for?
... a perfect meal for a summers evening with a glass of wine - can't you tell that after one day of warm weather in Wicklow I am urging the country towards summer via food telepathy!