In Cod We Trust

fish taco
Photo by Keri White

In the midst of the current crisis, many of us have had difficulty getting our normal supply of fresh groceries.

Many people, myself included until recently, only cooked fresh fish from the market and avoided frozen.

I learned a valuable lesson last week about the joys of freezing fish. I bought a large piece of fresh cod from the market, but the way our meals mapped out, I knew I was not going to cook it right away. I ended up cutting it into two portions in advance of two subsequent meals, sealing it in a zipper bag, pushing all the air out and freezing it.

I then defrosted each portion in the refrigerator overnight in advance of the meal and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the cod maintained its flavor and texture.

The first meal was inspired by The Philadelphia Inquirer column “My Daughter’s Kitchen,” which features simple recipes taught to School District of Philadelphia students by volunteers.

The recipe used panko, lemon zest and parsley, which sounded wonderful to me, but met with rebellion from my co-quarantinees. Daughter dislikes parsley, husband is meh on lemon. To accommodate their preferences, I tweaked the recipe, using lime and cilantro, and the results were terrific. Full disclosure: I am confident that the original recipe is delicious, and I look forward to making it when serving it to less particular diners.

cod baking
Photo by Keri White

Panko-Lime Crusted Cod

Serves 4

  • 4 cod fillets
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup panko
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1½ tablespoons butter, melted

Heat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking dish with parchment.

Place the cod on the parchment, spritz it with lime juice and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the panko, zest, cilantro, lime and butter.

Spoon the panko mixture onto each fillet and gently press to make sure it stays put.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. The topping should be brown and crisped, and the fish should flake easily and be opaque throughout.

Cod Fish Tacos

Serves 2

These were the product of a few ingredients lying around in need of some use. I always make a concerted effort to avoid waste, but in these difficult times I am even stricter about it.

I had quarter-head of cabbage to use, half a bunch of cilantro, a lime and a bit of plain yogurt that needed to be used. I also had one cod fillet and some soft flour tortillas.

Fish tacos suggested themselves, and came out quite well.

I used a spice blend called Devil Dust, which can be purchased at Reading Terminal Market, but any red pepper-based spice blend, fajita seasoning or even Lawry’s Seasoned Salt would work.

For the slaw:

  • ¼ head of cabbage, shredded (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro (about ½ cup)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt or sour cream or mayonnaise
  • Salt/pepper/hot sauce to taste

For the fish:

  • ½ pound cod fillet, cut in ¾-inch strips
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1-2 teaspoons seasoned salt blend
  • 1 tablespoon canola, corn or vegetable oil
  • Warm tortillas, to serve

Make the slaw: Mix all the ingredients and set aside.

Make the fish: Toss it in a shallow bowl with the lime juice and spice blend so that strips are coated.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high and add the fish. Sauté until done, turning
frequently, for about 6 minutes total.

Serve the fish with the warm tortillas and slaw.


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