Tonight was this season’s first Harvard Square Farmer’s Market delivery of the Cape Ann Fresh Catch Community Shared Fishery, and Cleetus the Cod made his way into our home, our hearts, and our stomachs scant hours after being yanked fresh from the Atlantic Ocean. Why did I name him Cleetus? Mainly for alliterative effect… one I worked out while walking in the gathering New England storm to the truck where he waited for me. And Cleetus was KING SIZED; this bad boy was the biggest fish we’ve yet had over for dinner.
I wish I had a scale so I could’ve weighed him, but I can tell you that dragging his fins home from work on the subway was both surreal, and exhausting. Thank goodness eating him fortified me so well…
This is only 1/2 of Cleetus’s sweet sweet meat; the rest is waiting patiently in the freezer for a later application of cod chowder, or maybe cod fritters, or maybe codcakes. We’ll see. But for now, here’s about 1-1 1/4lb roughly (read: amateurishly) harvested cod fillets (which I’m proud to say were at least perfectly boneless and skinless, if not entirely successfully cut from the, er, carcass.)
I cut my fillet into 6 mostly equally sized strips, or fingers, or cutlets, or whateveryamacallem.
Salt and pepper all sides of the fish fingers liberally, and then dredge thoroughly in flour.
In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat a few tablespoons (enough to lightly coat the surface of your entire pan) over medium high heat. Melt one tablespoon butter into the hot oil, and swirl well.
Carefully place your cod pieces into your hot sizzling butteroil, and shake the pan gently to keep any damp spots from sticking. Sear gently over high heat for 5-6 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom, with a creeping cooked level working up the sides of each piece, leaving pink only on the very top centers.
When browned, carefully flip each piece with tongs and a spatula. Swirl the pan to distribute the remaining oils well under each piece, and gently shake the pan to keep them from sticking. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until crispy.
Piccata is one of my favorite sauces, but I admit I’ve only ever used it over chicken, pork, or veal cutlets. But I had literally nothing in the pantry but a lemon, some well-salted capers, some butter and, of course,…
…some wine. Here’s some cheap, but drinkable and delightfully cookable, chardonnay. I rinse my capers well…
… then add about 1 cup of wine, let reduce, then add my rinsed capers, the juice of one lemon, and — at the very last minute — one tbs butter.
Fresh, buttery leaves of Bibb lettuce tossed with cilantro, pinched fresh mozzarella, blood orange EVOO and white wine vinegar compliments the briny buttery goodness of Piccata’s pan sauce over tender fresh crunchy spears of pan-seared cod. Bright as a spring morning sun, fresh as a moonlit spring night, and tasty like a tango of flavors gracefully prancing across the palate, and as satisfying as sex on the beach. Or so I hear. Keep your fingers crossed for me, folks, that our Mexican Christmas holiday happens the way we hope it will.
Until then, enjoying this sumptuous supper of sublime seafood and sweet salad will give me the … aaahhhhhhh… I need to make it through the week.