Sunday, 6 July 2014

Cod with Pea & Chive Curry Cream Sauce

This is another relatively simple fish dish to prepare but one that has oodles of flavour. The curry in the sauce does not dominate but in a subtle and understated way it brings out the natural sweetness of the other elements of the dish. The key thing when cooking this recipe is to have a lightness of touch when introducing the curry powder as the intention is not to create a cod curry but rather cod accompanied by a lightly flavoured curry cream sauce.

This recipe is based on one that I found in a cookbook called Cuisine Courante written several years ago by Bruno Loubet a French chef who has worked in the UK for many years with a brief sojourn working in Brisbane, Australia in the early noughties.
 
This sauce is rich, containing as it does, double cream and butter, but it is so tasty and I firmly believe that a little of what you fancy every now and then has to be good for you. That’s my excuse anyhow! I just love the vibrant green colour of the peas and chives against the pale cream hue of the sauce and the purity of the white fish. This is a dish that looks so elegant and just tastes delicious.
 
I used freshly podded peas harvested straight from my garden, but to be honest, unless you grow your own and can pick them and use them fairly immediately, I would use frozen peas. I think frozen peas are a great product and I always make sure that I have a few packs to hand in the freezer, ready to make into pea soup (one of my favourites), to add to stir-fries or to serve as a vegetable accompaniment etc.

This dish is lovely served with some puréed potatoes, or if I’m being less posh – some mashed spuds to mop up the beautiful sauce.

Ingredients:

25g butter
75g shallots, peeled and sliced
65g button mushrooms, sliced
100ml dry vermouth/dry white wine
4 x 150g pieces of cod, skinned
Sauce:
200g frozen peas, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and then refreshed in iced water
100ml double cream
25g butter
1tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
1tblsp chives, chopped finely
½tsp mild curry sauce
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
Curry oil (optional):
25ml rapeseed oil
1tsp mild curry powder

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.
2. Place the butter in a medium sized oven-proof baking dish and allow to melt over a moderate heat on the stove top. Add the shallots and fry gently until soft but not coloured (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms and pour in the white wine. Bring this mixture to the boil and then remove from the heat.
3. Place the cod fillets in a single layer on top of the shallot and mushroom mixture and season with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Next, directly cover the fish with a little crumpled non-stick baking parchment and place in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and then transfer the cod to a separate dish and keep warm.
Sauce:
4. Strain the remaining contents of the baking dish through a fine sieve into a clean medium-sized saucepan, pressing down as you go so as to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the contents of the sieve. Place the saucepan over a moderate to high heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and add the cream and peas. Allow the sauce to simmer for 1 minute and then whisk in the butter a little at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the curry powder and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Finally add the freshly chopped herbs.
Curry oil (optional):
5. Gently heat the oil and curry powder together in a small saucepan over low heat. Do not allow boil.
6. Strain through a fine piece of muslin.
To serve:
7. Place a piece of cod in the middle of each serving plate and spoon over some of the sauce. Sprinkle with a few drops of curry oil and serve.

Serves 4.