Sunday, February 3, 2013

Poached Cod with Coconut Broth

Somehow, when I write the actual name of the recipe it sounds much less romantic than "a study in white...blah blah blah." The romantic name prompted so many of you to post and email for a recipe, hopefully the practical name will inspire some of you to actually make it...  This is a simple recipe that I compiled using a few basic techniques married with a typical Thai flavor profile; it's a perfect way to use a few pantry essentials to create a quick after-work supper.

Poached Cod with Coconut Broth
yield: two adult servings

12-14 oz fresh cod/other non-oily white fish, or scallops, cut into two portions
3-4 oz rice vermicelli, blanched until tender and rinsed
1 can coconut milk (I like Chao Koh)
1/2 c light vegetable or chicken broth
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
2" ginger, rinsed and cut into thin coins
2 kaffir lime leaves, bruised -or- zest of 1 lime
one large handful each of green beans and mushrooms - sliced
splash of your favorite high-heat oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly (two if you want a bit more spice)
fish sauce, lime juice, and palm (or brown) sugar to season

Preheat the oven to 400F and bring a small pot of water to boil.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk, broth, and lemongrass/ginger/lime to a simmer and allow to steep until it tastes super flavorful (about half an hour - be careful if you're using zest, you may want to remove it sooner than the rest).  It should be nicely balanced and well falvored, but still delicate.  Strain into another small pot and season to taste with fish sauce and palm sugar.

As the broth is steeping, heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add a touch of oil to the pan, then put in the shallots and cook until wilted.  Add the mushrooms, cook for a few minutes, and then add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender.  

While you are finishing the vegetables and broth, place the fish in an oven-safe dish and cover with boiling water by 2/3.  Add a pinch of salt, cover, and place in the oven.  Check after about 10 minutes, allowing the fish to poach until it is just starting to flake but it still a little firm in the center.

Just before the fish is ready, bring the broth back to a simmer.  Taste to check the fish sauce/sugar balance, and season with the lime juice.  It's best to add lime juice at the end because if you simmer citrus for too long it will get bitter. 

Run some very hot water over the noodles to heat and loosen them up.

Into two deep bowls, divide the still-hot vegetables and top with the rice noodles (to make the noodles pretty, pick up one portion with tongs and then place them directly on top of the veggies while twisting your wrist to create a tight knot).  Set the perfectly cooked fish on top of the noodles and drench with the broth.  Garnish with the jalapeno slices and serve.

Once you get the hang of this recipe, all of the tasks should nest together and it should take no more than 30 minutes.