Wild Cod with Creamy Herb Sauce
Fresh, wild cod is one of those fish that even people who don’t really like fish often will eat. It’s used in the fried version of fish tacos or fish and chips. I love it and I especially love it just seared with a light and creamy herb sauce on the side. This is one of those filling but calorie friendly meals for the summer. And….it’s gluten free. Which for me, my friends, is a new thing I’m trying out. I do have a tendency to add bread and pancetta to every recipe I make so this time I resisted the urge. And you know what? I think it’s still really good. But hey if you wanted to add a few Panko breadcrumbs to coat the fish before searing and a few crumbles of crispy pancetta over the top when it’s done….who am I to stop you? Yeah, that might be good too.
I think if you are going to make the fresh grilled version it’s especially important to try to find a piece of fish that is wild and fresh (not frozen) because you’ll get a more delicate and flaky texture. This one, which I got at my local Safeway, was perfect and oh-so-tender. The creamy sauce, which I’ll get to in a minute, was the perfect accompaniment. I served a good helping of summer tomato, red onion, avocado and cucumber salad on the side and called it a day.
So the sauce is a really simple sauce to pull together. It’s just mayonnaise and a grainy mustard and a little garlic and lemon zest and juice, herbs and a little olive oil. That’s it. Probably all stuff you have in your pantry except the herbs. I chose fresh basil and dill. I think dill goes really well with fish and in this kind of sauce but you could use just basil and chives or a little bit of oregano even.
Finally, let’s talk about grilling fish. I like to pan sear mine in a really hot, non-stick skillet with just salt and pepper on the fish itself and then rubbed on both sides with canola oil. Canola oil has a higher burn temperature (means it won’t smoke up your kitchen) than olive oil so it’s great for dishes like this. I love the flavor of olive oil though so an option is to finish the fish with just a drizzle of olive oil once it’s plated or – as I did in this case – just serve a nice salad on the side that has olive oil in it. Canola oil doesn’t have a lot of flavor so that’s good. The flavor is in the creamy herb sauce that goes along anyway.
Here’s the step by step if you need it. Quick. Easy. Weeknight meal for the family or dinner for two.
- Grab a medium bowl and combine the mayonnaise, mustard (any kind you like is fine), chopped garlic, and lemon zest
2. Add the olive oil to the mayo mixture and whisk until they are just blended.
3. Squeeze in that fresh lemon juice. Start with 1/2 a lemon and taste and go from there. I like mine pretty lemony (is that a word?) but do what suits your palate. Remember the fish will balance it out a bit.
4. Add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper then gently stir to combine and set aside. Can be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to several hours.
5. Pat the cod dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. This helps the fish brown better. Season well with salt and pepper and rub both sides with Canola oil. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Wait until it’s hot and then brown the fish on both sides. About 2-3 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the cut. Should be just cooked through and flaky in texture but not falling apart.
To finish the dish I like to place the sauce on the bottom of the plate and the fish on top of that. Makes a nice presentation. Then you can top with fresh herbs for garnish and serve more sauce on the side. But for family style feel free to place them all on a platter and drizzle the sauce right over the the top. This recipe is for 2 but you can easily double or triple it for a larger group. And I made the portion sizes on the cod pretty big because I didn’t have any starch with my meal so I wanted the fish portion to be generous. Tomato salad or any season salad is a great side for this weeknight meal. Enjoy!
- 3/4 lb fresh, wild Alaskan Cod (or frozen and thawed)
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon stone ground or Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 2 Tablespoon Canola oil
- Salt and Pepper
- In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, mustard and lemon zest. Whisk to combine.
- Add in the olive oil and whisk again. Then the lemon juice (1/2 lemon at a time to taste), dill, basil and salt and pepper. Whisk the herbs in gently and taste for seasoning. Adjust lemon juice and/or salt and pepper as needed.
- Season the cod on both sides with salt and pepper and canola oil. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Saute fish (without moving it) about 2-3 minutes per side or until gold brown.
- Remove from pan and serve over creamy herb sauce with extra herbs as a garnish.