I can remember my mother telling me when I was a child that fish was brain food. It wasn't something we had very often actually, although on a rare occasion my mother would buy a frozen block of haddock.
She would carefully cut it into 5 small pieces and each would be drenched in some flour, seasoned with some salt and pepper and then fried in butter, until it was crisp and golden brown all over.
Oh, but that was some good. A rare treat. I can remember thinking to myself that when I got older I would buy big pieces of fish and eat as much of it as I wanted.
We only ever very rarely got to eat out in a restaurant. To eat in a restaurant was another rare treat. We always chose fish and chips and it was so delicious . . . flakey fish in a crisp and tasty batter, crisp chips, salt, a lemon wedge and some coleslaw on the side. It was some good.
When I got into my teens, I developed a tasty recipe for haddock, which consisted of a block of the frozen fish, topped with a tin of tomatoes, some chopped green pepper, onions, salt, pepper and oregano and then baked. Oh, but the family loved this, and still do. Simple and plain and good.
I think fish is so very good, and so very good for you. I don't think we eat nearly enough of it. It can be very pricey, and so remains a rare treat for Todd and myself. As delicious as it is, it deserves to be cooked in a special way which enhances and brings out it's very best.
I believe this recipe does just that. Simple ingredients, simple cooking. There are a few different flavours here . . . the tang of a moreish artichoke pesto, the saltiness of tinly sliced panchetta . . . the mild sweetness of a delicious thick piece of cod . . . delicious enough to serve to even your most discerning of guests.
*Roasted Cod with Pancetta and Artichoke Pesto*
Mild and moist roasted Cod stuffed with a delicious artichoke pesto and wrapped in salty pancetta. Delicious! The recipe makes a lot more artichoke pesto than you will need, but it is delicious on pasta, or bruschetta, and also freezes fairly well.
For the Pesto:
1 (415g) tin of artichoke hearts, drained (14 ounce)
4 ounces of olive oil (1/2 cup)
150g of roasted shelled pistachio nuts (1 1/3 cups)
the juice of one lemon
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
a large handful of fresh parsley, minced
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
For the dish:
2 300g pieces of chunky, fresh Icelandic Cod loins (about 11 ounces)
2 TBS of the artichoke pesto
4 slices of pancetta
4 large sage leaves
2 tsp olive oil
the juice of one lemon
paprika, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
First make the pesto by putting the artichokes, pistachios, parsley and garlic into a food processor and blitzing until you have a coarse paste. Squeeze in the lemon juice and then add the olive oil, while the motor is running, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. You want a somewhat textured paste. Don't over process. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the parmesan cheese.
Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F.
Take your Cod loins and make a cut along them horizontally almost all the way through so that you can open them up like a book. Open them up and spread 1 TBS of the pesto inside each of them. Cover with the top flap. Lay two sage leaves on top of each and wrap each in two slices of the pancetta, making sure that they overlap on the bottom. Place with the pancetta overlapped side down into a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and some paprika.
Roast for 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the oven. Divide each portion in half to serve. We like to have this with some boiled new potatoes and a steamed vegetable.