Filetto di Merluzzo con Lenticchie Miste, Sedano e Peperoni
Fillet of Cod with Mixed Lentils, Celery and Pepper
Having had a lifetime-aversion to fish in general, I have to admit that I have grown to like cod more and more. Yes, you connoisseurs will tell me that there are many, many finer and better fish in the sea... but for this evening, this fillet of cod suited me fine, thank you very much!
Yes, I do prefer monkfish when my pennies will stretch that far- but as far as I am concerned, with fish as with meat, it is not simply a matter of buying the most exclusive and expensive quality or cut- it is about how you prepare it. And I would maintain any day that you will get a better result and better meal from a more inexpensive product if you have a little fantasy, skill, and fun in preparing your food, than if you simply have a dollar in your pocket and no real idea about cooking...
So let's begin at the beginning.... with the lentils and mung beans, which I soaked this morning, thus reducing the cooking time to between 10-15 minutes. I added some finely chopped carrot, onion and celery to give extra flavor and seasoned with salt, pepper, bay leaf and a little cumin powder. You never can tell for sure how long they will take exactly, but the secret is to bring them to the boil, cook at a low simmer for 7-8 minutes, drain off most of the water and then turn off the heat and let them sit with the lid on until you are ready to serve. The residual heat and steam will do the job for you, without you overcooking them and turning them into a paste or a soup.
The celery I steamed for 5 minutes, then drained and then sautéed in a little butter and deglazed with a splash of Sambuca... simple, delicate and intense at the same time!
The red pepper was also steamed- but I laid it on top of fresh peppermint leaves and then drizzled with honey and a little Tabasco. Yum!
And the star of ,the show, the cod, was fried at a high heat for around 2 minutes in a little clarified butter, with a slice of ginger, a little garlic, a hint of vanilla and a sprig or two of thyme. As soon as it began to brown nicely, I turned it over and removed it from the heat. Once again- the pan has enough heat still to finish the cooking process whilst you prepare your dishes- in 2-3 minutes it will be perfect, juicy and delicious!
I layered mine as you can see, with lentils first, then the celery, then pepper and the cod on top, with a light drizzle of olive oil, a hint of herb-infused salt and a light sprinkle of cress, to add a little fresh, peppery flavor.
I have to concede that with dishes like this one- I could maybe consider becoming more friendly with the fishermen after all- or at least what they bring to our kitchens! Enjoy!