Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cooking with Dr. Monkey

Since I missed cooking a new recipe the first week of 2013, I had to double up this week.  Having conquered plantain cakes earlier in the week, I was in the mood for something Mediterranean so I looked in this cookbook that I bought for Sparky years ago:

And I found a good looking cod/potato/tomato puree stew recipe, I discovered that all I would have to buy was cod and pine nuts because we had most everything else.  So this is what I made:

I began by cutting my cod in to smallish chunks and then I rolled them in flour.  I poured enough olive oil to cover the bottom of my non stick frying pan and I cooked my fish.
Once the cod got nice and golden on one side I then turned it over to get it golden brown on the other.  Once it was done I put the cooked fish on a paper towel on a plate to let some of the oil drain off it.
Next the pine nut/almond 'sauce.'  It's called a sauce but it's not a liquid sauce like we're all used to.  You take 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup pine nuts, a bit of fresh parsley, a couple cloves of garlic, and about a 1/4 cup of some kind of large crumbs, the recipe calls for crushed digestive biscuits (cookies) or graham cracker crumbs but since I had neither I used panko crumbs.  You pound everything with your mortar and pestle until it's all nice and paste like.  The crumbs are there to give the sauce a bit of texture so panko worked just fine for me.
 Once my sauce was all pounded and ready I pureed 12 ounces of my home canned tomatoes.
Next I put some of the left over olive oil I cooked the fish in into my cast iron cooking pot.  Once it was heated up I added the tomato puree and the pounded nut sauce.  I let it simmer together for about 8 minutes.
To the tomato nut sauce puree I added five small to medium sized potatoes that I had peeled and chopped into chunks and a cup and a half of chicken broth, the recipe calls for fish stock but since I didn't have any, I used chicken broth, actually it's a vegan bullion broth cube that makes a broth that tastes almost exactly like chicken broth.
The then put the lid on the pot and let the potatoes cook in the wonderful smelling sauce.  I cooked them on a lowish temperature until they were cooked all the way through.  I also put in about a tablespoon of cracked black pepper.

While the potatoes cooked I made an unemulsified aioli out of three cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of sea salt, and 7 tablespoons of olive oil.  Once again you pound all this stuff up with your mortar and pestle.  And if you don't have one and are serious about making good food, go buy a decent sized mortar and pestle, preferably one made of stone.  We have a small one made out of marble and it's fine for small jobs but we use our bigger stone one more often.
 Stare deeply in to my aioli.  Stare at it!  I command you!  Now look away.  Do it!
Once the potatoes were done I took the pot off the burner and I gently put the cod pieces back in and I spooned the aioli over them.  I gave the whole thing a stir to combine everything and I put the lid back on while a made a small salad of romaine lettuce, grated carrot, and orange slices.
 I served it all up with a side of Sparky's warmed up thickly sliced homemade bread.

The verdict: holy shit, this cod stew is fucking outrageously tasty and I will definitely make it again.  Seriously, every bite was a party in my mouth.  Two things about this recipe though, one, since cod and pine nuts are on the expensive side this dish will be a once in a while thing or a dish I make when we have friends who like fish over for supper, and two, you need to make sure you stir the potatoes as they cook because the nut/panko sauce wants to stick to the bottom of the pot. 

I know many of you don't like fish or it's prohibitively expensive so I suggest you use thinly sliced chicken breast or substitute tilapia or some other white non greasy fish for the cod.  I wouldn't use salmon because it's too greasy and heavy tasting, it will overwhelm the other ingredients.  You can also add red or green chopped chilies if you like to give it a little heat. 


Brewella Deville said...

Good call on the panko flake substitution. The original options of digestive biscuits or graham cracker crumbs sound like absolutely horrible additions.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Quite interesting, Doc! Was concerned you were going to have a verdict of nay-nay, but glad you liked it!

gmb said...

Dr. Monkey: For pesto sauces, you can substitute almonds or walnuts for pine nuts, so maybe that would work here? Or even hazelnuts--something the Spanish would do. And that looks great.