Cod has the mass appeal and the soul of a good thriller. It defies overcooking, welcomes a range of accompaniments, and is great fried, sautéed, and poached. Cod is seasonless: chunked up and thrown into a hot bowl of chowder it’s wintry; battered and fried, it’s a defining taste of a Cape Cod summer. In short, it’s the Bo Jackson of the sea (look it up).
If versatility distinguishes good from great ingredients, cod deserves a bit more respect. And yet, people tend to turn down their noses, considering it pedestrian and cheap. But unlike, say, a television, cheap can be the greatest culinary compliment. The least expensive stuff is often the best; think skirt steak and mussels.
Cod is also perfect with something most of us use every day: olive oil. I read of a tapas method in which you score the fish about a half-inch deep, drizzle olive oil over and broil. The oil seeps into the filet, lending a richness to each flaky bite.
And so we kept it simple. In this case, the oil is strikingly inky from being blended with black olives, but otherwise, it’s a simple plate of an unheralded delicious fish.
(NOTE: the oil should separate. It’s not a tapenade but more of a broken vinaigrette.)
Cod w/ Black Olive Oil
½ pound cured black olives
1 cup good olive oil
1 small bunch radishes, diced small
snipped chives for garnish
4 cod filets, about 6 ounces each
salt and pepper
- Puree the olives and oil. Reserve
- Cook the fish as desired (it’s versatile-read the above): 1. Preheat the broiler. Season fish with salt and pepper and broil until just cooked through. 2. Season fish with salt and pepper and poach in simmering water until done, about 5 minutes. 3. Preheat the oven to 450, season the fish, wrap individually in foil or parchment paper along with a splash of white wine, until done, about 15 minutes.
- To serve, plate the fish, sprinkle over the diced radish and drizzle with the blended oil. (NOTE)