It seems like lately I’m basically pescatarian. And by pescatarian I mean I would be content to live on a diet of sushi and chocolate. But sometimes I just need to have a huge plate of carne asada fries… (So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not pescatarian at all).
Cooking with fish is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get a fancy-yet-healthy gourmet dinner on the table. And I don’t know if it’s living on the coast, but there are so many options for delicious and high quality seafood these days. I barely have to make a stop at a specialty fish monger anymore since I can find decent quality items at the local Ralphs or Trader Joes.
When picking seafood I definitely believe in assessing with your nose before all else. The seafood counter should smell fresh and “like the sea,” but never rotten. If the seafood counter smells outrageously fishy, pass it up. Secondly, I typically go for seafood that I know is close to local. For non-coastal dwellers this might look like a lake or river fish versus an ocean fish. However, most flash-freezing techniques do preserve freshness well and I’ve found that you really can access decent ocean fish these days even inland. Just make sure to get it from a reputable source!
Now- onto the recipe: Cod with White Beans en Papillote.. (Bestill my heart!)I had a fish served with similar flavors when I was in Paris with my family several years back. And the fact that it still stands out in my memory means it had to have been good. I had never had fish paired with white beans before, but I found the combination genius; fish is so light and delicate that it goes naturally well with a hearty bean pairing.
The technique I used here is called en papillote, which basically means in parchment. This method steams the fish inside a parchment packet baked in the oven, which ensures that the fish retains its moisture and all the ingredients and flavors blend together to create a lovely sauce.
Cod, while a universally loved fish, does tend to become rubbery if over-cooked or cooked too fast and too hot.
So this method I think works perfectly to gently heat the fish and results in a tender and flaky result. There is a fancy way of arranging the parchment by cutting it into a heart shape and folding along the edges, but I found that a folded and crimped rectangle of parchment also got the job done and took far less obsessing.So, as always, thanks for indulging my foodie ramblings. And I seriously hope you get a chance to make this one sometime very soon!
Cod and White Beans en Papillote
- 1 ¾ lbs cod cut into 4 equal pieces
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 2 shallots sliced and roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled, and smashed
- 1 15 oz can white navy beans drained, and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon sliced into thin rounds
- 8 campari or grape tomatoes
- A splash of white wine I used a pinot grigio
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste.
- Chives for garnishing
- Lemon wedges for garnishing
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a skillet, render the pancetta until golden brown and crispy.
- Turn heat to medium low and add shallots and garlic. Saute until just softened.
- Next, add the navy beans, vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Add a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes for heat (to taste).
- Saute for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Prepare parchment packets- divide the bean mixture into 4 portions on separately divided pieces of parchment.
- Top the beans with the cod. Season the fish with additional salt and pepper.
- Top the cod with 2-3 lemon rounds and tuck 2 small tomatoes into the packet.
- Splash the whole thing with a little white wine.
- Fold the parchment carefully around the fish and twist off the ends to hold everything together.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through and tomatoes are blistering and slightly softened.
- Serve immediately, garnished with chives and additional wedges of lemon.