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FOOD Baked cod and rosemary


Fresh cod
FRESH GOODNESS The lightness of fish is the perfect antidote to Christmas over-indulgence.

Dish up some fishy serendipity

Redmond Cabot

After Christmas day I was definitely feeling like I had eaten too many meats and rich accompaniments! It was Friday morning, and we were talking about going out for the day and what would we have for dinner. Fish, spuds and greens were decided on. It was exactly what I wanted. Fresh, clean, nutritious foods.
Arriving home in darkness and slightly weather-beaten, the only priorities were to light the fire, get dinner cooked, relax, warm up, and eat. Within 30 minutes this was achieved and it set up a great night in for us, listening to more storms. What’s more, through a combination of tiredness, not really caring and post-Christmas Devil-may-care we found a new way of cooking cod.
The fish was laid out on a baking tray, seasoned and given knobs of butter and a squeeze of lemon. I was about to put it in the oven when my eyes passed over a container of rosemary sprigs in the open cupboard, and I thought, ‘Why not?’. A liberal sprinkling of rosemary over the fish, and the dish went in the oven.
As the fish, juices and herbs all cooked together, a great new meeting of tastes and flavours was born. The mild, green, proto-smokiness of the rosemary complemented and enhanced the strong white flesh of the cod.
Just before cooking the fish, I spotted a loose red pepper in the basket and another idea jumped out at me: Some squares of that pepper roasted with red-onion quarters would be a great colour, texture and taste contrast to the fish.
This disorganised process of cooking may not have suited Michel Roux’s taste, but for us, that night in our little nest, it served us well – as good as any Parisian restaurant. Pure serendipity. The happiness that glowed around the fire – twinkling eyes, full tummies and craic – meant that for that moment, there and then, we had good taste! No fancy planning or recipes, just a delicious new, ‘makey-upy’ dinner that will be cooked again.

Baked cod and rosemary
Serves four

What you need

  • 2 medium cod fillets, skin on
  • 8/12 Irish potatoes for baking
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 red pepper

What you do
Living in a permanent state of disorganisation, one of my recent obsessions has been baking lots of spuds. Any type, any kind. I just loved the dry, earthy sweetness mingling with butter and the flavours of the plate. I have been experimenting and putting the potatoes in the oven at 220 degrees and reducing the heat to 180 degrees after ten minutes or so. My belief is this perfects the ‘jacket potato’, fluffy golden goodness inside.
Remember to prick the potatoes with a fork or sharp knife: Exploding potatoes in your oven can cause temporary distress.
After 15 minutes of spud cooking, start to prepare your fish and veggies. Wash and cut the pepper into medium-sized shapes. Peel the outer skin off the onions and quarter them. Place both on a small baking tray, season, drizzle with oil and fire into the oven. You must stir after five minutes when it is sizzling, this mixes the oil and the flavours from the veg. Add some cloves of garlic if you like.
Wash the fish fillets and lay them skin-side down on another tray, season and place three small knobs of butter from your fingers on each side. Sprinkle with rosemary needles and place in a hot oven for ten minutes.
Cook your greens in salted water for five minutes (recently, I have been boiling them in less than an inch of water with the lid off – sort of half steamed, half boiled). Drain, and stir in a knob of butter.
Serve the fish skin side down so if anyone who doesn’t like the skin can just leave it on the plate. Use all your skill and sense of place to plate up attractively. The plate is a canvas for you to dress with your food. The red colour of peppers can be scattered around one side, over the fish, the green heads of broccoli positioned beside or around the dry brownness of the baked spuds. Whatever you do, enjoy your own great taste!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.