Fishing is a funny thing. It seems that you either have a sixth sense for catching fish or you’re the complete opposite. Unfortunately, I am the latter. When it comes to fishing, I fail.
My grandfather owns a small house on Lake Ontario in Canada. I can remember when I was younger, fishing with him during the summer on the lake. He’d catch at least a dozen bass, whereas I would always come up empty-handed. Not even a single bite. To make matters worse, we were fishing from the same spot! What was I doing wrong?
Don’t get me wrong – I have always loved the idea of fishing. Relaxing in the sun with a fishing rod and a beer in hand sounds great to me. If only I could actually go home with a fish.
For that reason, I must rely on grocery stores and farmers markets that take care of the fishing for me. I usually buy my fish from Whole Foods because it’s closest to me, but I’ve heard good things about Black Salt Fish Market off of MacArthur Boulevard.
A few nights ago when I was visiting Paul in Baltimore, I decided to buy a pound of cod from The Fresh Market in Towson. Cod is an extremely versatile fish. Its mild, buttery flavor opens up endless possibilities. It’s never too expensive either, and is easy to find fresh and wild caught. Because cod is so delicate and flaky, I think it is best to sauté or poach the fish, instead of grilling it.
I crafted a recipe in my head as I shopped for the rest of my groceries. What I came up with was simple, but full of flavors – the acidity of the white wine, lemon juice and tomatoes, the slight bitterness of the olives all paired nicely with the cod. I used Kalamata olives, but any kind would work. In addition, a light caramelization on the squash introduces more flavor into the dish. I recommend buying the squash and tomatoes from the farmers market if possible. You can use yellow squash, zucchini, or variety of summer squash you prefer. For tomatoes, I would use heirloom or vine-ripened – I think they taste the best during the summer.
Cod Cooked in White Wine and Lemon Juice with Tomatoes, Olives and Summer Squash
- Cod filets (1 lb. should serve 2 people)
- White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Kalamata olives, slivered
- Summer squash, large dice
- Fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Garlic and fresh thyme
- Lightly brown garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add squash and fresh thyme and cook until lightly caramelized.
- Add the tomatoes, then cook until softened, seasoning with salt and pepper (optional – red pepper flakes). Add olives at the end. Keep vegetables warm in oven while cooking fish (set to 300 degrees).
- In another pan, brown Cod filets in olive oil, skin side up, over medium-high heat. Cook until browned on one side.
- Flip the fish over carefully, then add lemon juice and white wine (enough to cover half of the filet) to pan. Fish is done when it begins to flake (it should cook pretty quickly, so watch it closely).
- Remove fish from pan and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Place fish over tomatoes, squash and olives. Pour a little of the lemon white wine poaching liquid on top of the fish, just enough to keep it moist, and enjoy!
(Photo credits: my mom!)