Recently I have hankered to eat fish. After a never-ending winter, I am dreaming of warm days, preferable spent by the sea eating freshly caught fish and vibrant salads (one can dream!). This recipe sort of bridges that gap, as fresh fish is swaddled in a moreish crust and the combination of cod, creamy squash and a buttery, nutty pilaff are deeply comforting on a winter's day.
The inspiration came from a delicious supper I had this week cooked by my friend Letizia. After a first course of pasta (of course, she’s Italian) we were served a piece of haddock, bought from her local fishmonger, baked in a lightly spiced crust with an incredibly creamy pumpkin mash. Very simple but so satisfying. On asking her what I should cook for a house supper the next day, she said ‘this’. So I did, chopping and changing with my own recipe and additions.
My fabulous fishmonger supplied the best and freshest cod fillets I have ever eaten. The flesh was pearly white and so clean tasting and a million miles away from the packaged cod you buy from a supermarket. From the grocer next door I found some samphire to add to a brown rice pilaff and a large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, fresh garlic and green chillis to make a chermoula crust for the fish.
Served with some roasted squash the result was delicious, comforting and everyone loved it. For pudding Ellie made her signature Vanilla Crème Patisserie and Fresh Raspberry Jelly Cups which were heavenly.
Cod with a Chermoula Crust, Roasted Butternut Squash & Brown Rice Pilaff with Samphire
For the squash…
- Preheat the over to 200C. Half one large Butternut Squash lengthways. Slash the flesh and top with 2 tbsp Butter, Seasoning and a drizzle of Oil. Roast in the oven, cut-side up, for 1hr.
- When soft and golden, taken out of the oven and scoop the flesh out into a saucepan, removing any seeds along the way. Crush slightly with a fork and add a dash of Milk, some Butter and Seasoning (it may need a little sugar also). Reheat when ready to serve.
For the pilaff…
- Melt 50g Butter in a small heavy based saucepan or casserole. Add 1 Onion, finely diced, a tsp Salt, and gently sauté until translucent. Add 1 Tbsp Curry Powder and 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped and cook for 1 min.
- Add 300g Brown Basmati Rice and stir to coat the grains. Then add 500ml Chicken Stock, place a lid on top turn the heat to low. Cook for about 40 mins, until the rice is cooked but retains a bite.
- Just before serving add a large handful of Sampire which has been rinsed and drained, pop the lid back on to let it steam for a couple of minutes, then serve.
For the fish…
Preheat the oven to 190C
- In a food processor whizz 400g White Bread, 1 large bunch of Parsley, 1 chopped Green Chilli, 4 chopped Garlic Cloves, 1 tsp Smoked Paprika, Juice and Zest 1 Lemon and some Salt & Pepper.
- Arrange 2 large Cod Fillets (enough to serve 4 depending on how hungry you are) in a baking tray, skin side down, and press the crust onto the fish.
- Drizzle with Olive Oil and roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. It will be ready when a butter knife easily pushes through the flesh.