Sometimes my most frustrating days at work end up being the most productive and inspiring in the kitchen. It’s as if I just need to forget about work and lose myself in something that’s all about making a meal that makes you and a love one feel good.
That was the case a few weeks ago. I really didn’t want a complicated meal and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money either. So while I was roaming the grocery store aisle, the idea of poaching fish with cucumbers hit me. I’ve poached fish many times before with other veggies, but never cucumbers. I thought that a layer of cucumbers would be pretty, like an artificial layer of scales on the fish, and it would add a fresh flavor to the fish.
I was right. All I did was melt two sticks of butter in a pan, add some dry white wine, slice a fillet of cod in two, sprinkle some garlic salt on it, and then cut half an English cucumber with a mandolin into really thin discs at the smallest setting. Then I carefully layered them on the fish, overlapping them to make them look like scales on the fish.
Charles said it was so pretty he almost couldn’t eat it. And the best thing is that it only took about 30 minutes to make the main dish and the side of blanched rainbow chard. I love rainbow chard, which is readily available this time of year. They have a nice bright tartness to them that makes them a perfect spring side dish.
If you’re thinking of pouring wine with this dish, consider a dry Oregon rosé such as the 2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Rosé. It’s an amazing pairing.
Poached Cod with Cucumber Slices
Cod fillet, ¾ to 1 pound
About ½ teaspoon garlic salt
4 springs tarragon
2 sticks butter
1 cup dry white wine
Melt butter in a pan over low heat. In the meantime, slice cod fillet into two pieces and sprinkle half of the garlic salt on each fillet. Set mandolin on thinnest setting and slice half an English cucumber into discs and layer on top of each piece of cod, overlapping them like scales.
When the butter is melted, add the white wine and tarragon sprigs and gently turn up heat until the liquid begins to simmer. Using a flatmetal spatula, gently place each cod fillet into the liquid, cover with lid and poach for 8-10 minutes on low heat. Remove and serve topped with some ground black pepper.
Blanched Rainbow Chard
¾ to 1 pound (1 bunch) of rainbow chard, leaves trimmed from ribs and discarded, and ribs rinsed in cold water and bottoms of ribs chopped off.
Enough water to cover chard
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt for blanching and 1 teaspoon salt for sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
½ cup white wine vinegar
In a small skillet over medium flame, heat olive oil and saute garlic slices until they turn golden. Add the white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt, stir and turn off heat and set aside.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Fill a deep skillet with water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a rolling boil. Place the chard ribs in the boiling water and blanch for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove and plunge the chard into the cold water bath in the bowl to stop the cooking and chill the chard.
Remove the chard from the ice bath and slice into bite-sized pieces and place into a small bowl and toss with the olive oil/vinegar mixture and serve.
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