When I was in 7th grade my father fulfilled a lifelong dream of his - owning a seaside cottage on Cape Cod. It had window boxes, shag carpet, and an outdoor shower. 800 square feet of paradise. His timing though was a bit unfortunate. You see, this new addition to our family coincided with the precise moment in my life when hanging out at the mall food court became ineffably more appealing than a weekend at the beach. Can you imagine the torture? Perhaps due to my exasperation over these new arrangements, it was around the same time that I swore off sea food all together (fish sticks had been on my approved list). That first summer was a steady succession of chicken sandwiches, sampled at every mid-Cape fish fry and clam shack we visited.
Fortunately I have graduated from my regrettable middle-school attitude and my sea food aversion. The little cottage is no longer ours, but my parents now live on the Cape year round so I make the pilgrimage from Boston regularly. These days each visit is an occasion to make amends with the lobster, mussels, chowder, and oysters I neglected in my youth. Sweet absolution.
In honor of my grown-up palate and Massachusettts' most beloved fish, I wanted to share this cod recipe. Last January, Bon Appetit introduced me to this slow-roasted salmon with citrus, fennel, and chiles, praising the 'low and slow' baking technique. I've never looked back. It produces divine results with fish of every stripe.
I prefer salt-packed capers to those in brine. The flavor is more herbal than vinegary, and they can live in the cupboard, freeing up valuable fridge real estate.
Slow Roasted Cod
Serves 2-3 (can easily be doubled or tripled)
- 1 lb. fresh cod filet (Salmon or another white fish like halibut would make good substitutes.)
- 1 Tbs. whole capers (If packed in salt, rinse well)
- 1 Tbs. finely diced preserved lemon rind (Follow the link for instructions on making your own, or pick some up here.)
- 1 red chile (The jar of preserved lemons we had included a beautiful mirasol pepper; we tossed it in since we like a little heat but it's not essential)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (This amount can be reduced. Really the fish should just be well coated. We like a heavy pour so we can dip bread in the warm, infused oil)
- Place fish in a baking dish and salt; let sit for 30 minutes or so to come to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees
- Rinse capers and dice preserved lemon
- Pour olive oil over fish and scatter with capers and preserved lemon
- If using chile, place in baking dish
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through (when pierced with a fork or knife fish will flake and be opaque)
Top with salsa verde and serve immediately
Salsa verde is awesome on fish, and equally if not more awesome for bread dunking while you slow roast. This is Alice Water's recipe with orange zest swapped in for lemon. Both are great.
1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped parsley
Zest of one orange (lemon zest is more traditional but we had an orange on hand)
1 Tbs. capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
- Combine all ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes or more for flavors to come together
- Taste for salt before serving; depending on your capers you may or may not need it