First of all and before I say anything else, let me just say how much I love this dish. We thought it up during one of our brainstorming sessions and I liked the idea immediately. It has everything I could like about a fish dish - it's simple, it only needs a few ingredients and it involves a fillet of fish rather than some broken up pieces in a sauce.
It's hard to imagine, but once upon a time I despised fish. Couldn't bear the smell of it and certainly wouldn't eat anything more than a fish finger. Although, the seeds were there because I would happily tuck into a fillet of rock salmon (Huss) in batter from our local chippy. However, all that changed when I fell pregnant with our son (who adores fish of all kinds) and suddenly I was craving fish. Weird but true. Since then, the liking for fish has thankfully stayed with me and since we've started shopping at Lidl stores, I have discovered an affordable source of proper fish fillets. Yay!
As Lidl had their extra large packs of cod fillet on special offer it seemed rude to not take advantage of that, hence we thought up this lovely recipe.
I reckon that as winter is coming to a close here, that might explain why my culinary head was concentrating on sunnier recipes from warmer climes and I was thinking along Spanish lines, although I do hear tell that this is very much a Portuguese recipe in spirit. Atlantic or Mediterranean, it's all good to me.
As I've said, I loved this dish. The cod is beautifully cooked and the en papillote (in a bag) cooking retains all its moisture. The lovely tasty oils from the chorizo and saffron bathe the fish and just add that extra bonus to the flavour. Inevitably, there will be some cooking juices from the fish that amalgamate with the oils and provides a perfect light sauce so if you enjoy your fish, you're going to love the simplicity and unfussiness of this recipe.
Again, I don't have many Cook's Tips for you. Most importantly is not to be scared and cook the fish for too long. It's far better to open the package and then have to put it back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, than to overcook and dry the fish out.
Now I know that saffron can be quite expensive, however this recipe isn't asking for a lot so if you can devote some saffron threads to it you'll benefit from the improved flavour. However, if all you've got is ground saffron, don't sweat it - it'll be fine. Just add a small amount.
So, there we have it. This cod dish would go well with paprika roast potatoes and any kind of Mediterranean vegetable, but I served it with Nigella Lawson's rapid roastinis (to which I added some dried rosemary), petit pois and green beans, which were very good indeed. Now, onwards to the recipe!
CHORIZO & SAFFRON BAKED COD (serves 3)
3 good sized, chunky and skinless cod fillets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced finely
70g finely cut chorizo slices, cut into fine strips
a small pinch of saffron strands
10g salted butter
a pinch of ground black pepper
a small pinch of sea salt.
Firstly, cut a long strip of silver foil or greaseproof paper that is twice as long as your pieces of cod when laid in a row. Fold it in half and lay it onto a baking tray, opening up the top layer.
Take the cod pieces and starting from the folded end, lay them along the centre of the foil right side up, then set aside.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a small frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and fry for 3-4 minutes, until they have softened. Then add the chorizo strips and the saffron and cook for another 5 minutes or so or until the chorizo has released some of its tasty oil. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter, pepper and sea salt and stir to combine.
Spoon the chorizo mixture evenly across the top of the fish, making sure to use all the flavoured oil. Quickly fold up the sides of the foil package, folding each side at least three times, to secure it well.
Place the fish into a pre-heated oven (180degC/350degF/Gas4) for 20-25 minutes, a little bit less if your fillets aren't of the chunky kind. When the fish is cooked, the foil package will be puffed up like a balloon.
To serve, simply make an incision across the top of the foil package and using a fish slice, plate up each piece of fish onto hot plates, making sure to capture as many of the chorizo pieces as you can, placing them on top of the fish. Drizzle with the cooking juices. Serve with roast potatoes, or rosemary fried gnocchi, along with a few vegetables of your choice.