I enjoy filleting fish. The whole process from gutting to scaling, even though is messy, I like. I generally have little patience in life, which doesn’t make me the best company at times, but give me a dead fish and a good filleting knife, as morbid as it is, I’m in a yoga state.
It’s just frustrating that I can’t do any proper grocery shopping on Sunday’s. Without any farmer’s markets nearby and all the independent shops shut, I resort to the local supermarket where they have fish that’s cut up into loins and packaged in plastic. To be fair, because I’m such a food snob, when I mean the local supermarket I mean Whole Foods, but still, I prefer a good old fashioned fishmongers where the whole place stinks of the sea.
With a well-stocked pantry I had too many ideas as to what I would do with those cod fillets and after much back and forth – too much for any sane person on a Sunday afternoon – I decided to do something Vietnamese-inspired. This, evidently, is not your weeknight meal. Take away all the garnishes and just do the fish with a salad, then it is. If you’ve got time try it with all the elements. It’s a good treat-yourself meal (yes this was for dinner for myself, not for a dinner party), but you could also do it for a dinner party or for Valentine’s Day tomorrow!
1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp palm sugar
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour or corn flour if gluten-free
4 cod fillets
2 tbsp fish sauce
35g palm sugar
4 baby aubergines, cut in half and scored
Leek & lemongrass puree
2 large leeks, just the white bits, finely sliced
1/2 stick lemongrass, bashed
2-3 tbsp cream
The remaining green bits of the leek, finely sliced into 10cm long match sticks
Coriander salsa verde
a bunch coriander leaves
Zest & juice of 1/2 lime
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
Rapeseed oil, or other neutral oil
Mix all the ingredients together for the cod and rub all over the cod pieces. Cling film and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. When all the other elements are done and you’re ready to cook the cod, remove excess marinade off the cod. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat, when hot, add the cod, depending on the thickness of your cod, fry for a few minutes on each side
For the aubergine:
Preheat oven to 200C. Heat the fish sauce and palm sugar together in a pan until melted and combined. Drizzle over the aubergine halves and put in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
Put the leeks in a small pot together with the lemongrass. Put enough water to cover and add the nob of butter. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until completely softened. Leave to cool slightly, then remove the lemongrass stalk. Reserve the cooking liquor. Puree the leeks, then add the cream and bit by bit the cooking liquor until you get a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper.
Fry the leek crisps in hot oil for a few seconds, then drain and drizzle with salt
Coriander salsa verde
Put the coriander, lime zest & juice and garlic in a food processor. While you blitz, slowly add the rapeseed oil until you reach a loose sauce-like consistency.