Sunday, 13 January 2013

Swim Little Fishy!

Zuppa di Merluzzo Mediterrano Piccante
Spicy Mediterranean Cod Fish Soup

I still can't believe it myself... but people, I made a fish soup... and I liked it! Pretty amazing from a self-confessed fish fraidy-cat! the truth of the matter is that when I bought my frozen cod from "Followfish" the other day, there was one decent sized piece in the box- and one that was but a third of a decent dinner-sized serving. Boo! (I thought I should throw that last remark in there, just before you begin to think I am doing advertising for aforementioned company!)

The fact of the matter is though, that Followfish do indeed sell 100% guaranteed sustainable 
fish. And the pieces come just the way that nature intended apparently- haha! Well all I can say is that it is a good job that I live on my own- because there would have been a bit of a fight over those unequal portions had I prepared a meal for 2 on Friday, when I made cod with black lentils and saffron sauce! As it is and as it was- one piece was great for a full meal... the other one was just right for this serving of soup! But what I am basically trying to say is- that you don't always need that much to make a decent sized serving... and as I discovered today- fish cooked straight from frozen can be a very good thing... and let me tell you why...

I began my grating some celeriac- about a 3" chunk, finely chopping about the same amount of carrot and onion and coarsely chopping half of a bulb of fennel. These went into my saucepan, with a little olive oil and a little crushed garlic. As soon as they began to brown, I added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and deglazed the pan with a splash of Sambuca, (Pastis would also be good), a little white wine and enough water to cover the vegetables. I let that bubble away for 5 minutes and finely chopped the fennel greens, a little spring onion and some parsley. They went into the pan next and also the piece of cod, straight from the freezer and a good pinch of cayenne pepper.

After 3-4 minutes, the cod was almost thawed and the flavors of all the ingredients were nicely mingled- and the next thing to do was to add a little "substance" to the soup and to thicken it up... which I did with polenta. I added a couple of spoonfuls and stirred it in quickly- it shouldn't clump up on you so don't worry! You may need to adjust the ratio of broth/polenta to get it right, but 2 spoonfuls were fine for one generous serving of soup. I then added the last ingredient, which were a couple of cherry tomatoes which I cut into quarters. I didn't want them to overcook and disintegrate completely... or to lose the fresh flavor they bring- especially as it would balance out the heat of the cayenne so nicely. I let the soup simmer for 5 minutes more and that was that! A drizzle of olive oil, a tiny squeeze of lemon juice, some freshly cracked black pepper corns and a sprig of fennel greens were the finishing touches. What a wonderful lunch! And what a nice surprise... for me!

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