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Seriously Italian: Sicilian-Style Baked Cod

Editor's note: On Thursdays, Babbo pastry chef Gina DePalma checks in with Seriously Italian. After a stint in Rome, she's back in the States, channeling her inner Italian spirit via recipes and intel on delicious Italian eats. Take it away, Gina!

Save your sauté, and no deep frying, thank you—when I'm cooking fish at home, I like to do it in a hot oven. It is a purely nostalgic impulse. My mother's kitchen churned out a fish dinner on every meatless Friday of my childhood, and yes, they were meatless all year round just in case God really does prefer it that way. After getting over my disappointment at being deprived of the same Mrs. Paul's frozen fish sticks that my friends were being served, I grew to love her simple recipe of baked fish fillets with well-seasoned breadcrumbs and some good olive oil.

Pairing this method with the bright, vibrant flavors of Sicily is the winning combination in this version of the Friday night special. There's sweetness from the red onion complimented by plenty of fresh mint and basil, a sour note from a shot of vinegar, and a squirt of anchovy paste to add the salty intensity of the sea. Olives bring a final touch of richness to the plate.

This recipe is for firm, meaty, white fish. I used cod, but you can sub a variety of your favorites. Look for anything with the texture needed to stand up to those big flavors, such as scrod, haddock, hake, or halibut; sea bass, or snapper work well too.

Season carefully at each stage of preparation; both the anchovy and olives will add salt to the flavor of the finished dish. Remember the rule for cooking fish: no more than 10 minutes per inch. To handle the thinner, flat ends of the fillet, I trim and then pile them on top of each other to create a complete portion that matches the thickness of the center.

This is exactly the kind of dish you will find at the seaside trattorie that dot the Sicilian coastline—simple, satisfying, and big on flavor. It is quickly becoming one of my go-to favorites for an easy weeknight supper. I love the way that all the ingredients add their bright notes to the liquid in the pan to make a bready, flavor-packed sauce. Most recently I paired it with julienned zucchini, sautéed with garlic and fresh thyme and buttered red bliss potatoes.

Sicilian-Style Baked Cod

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