Fresh Cod Poached in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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This dish is a Mediterranean-style confit of fresh cod, with a simple fresh tomato sauce. Once you have tried the texture and flavor of the fish cooked at low temperature in olive oil, you will always want to use this method for cooking cod.

The olive oil can be strained, refrigerated, and used again for frying squid or other fish. And I would suggest putting the fish in the oil when the fish is cold from the refrigerator, just in case the oil is too hot, so that the fish will cool the oil. Or use a deep-frying thermometer to be perfectly sure. The oil should be 180° to 190°F.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons yellow extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 pieces fresh cod fillet, 4 to 6 ounces each, cut from the thick end
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 1 cup chopped, peeled, seeded ripe tomatoes
  • teaspoons Chianti vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • basil leaves or herb flowers, for garnish

Method

Heat 4 cups of the olive oil in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan to 180°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

Salt the fish on both sides and pepper only on the under (skin) side. Put the fish in the hot oil, peppered side down, and cook until the fish is a little springy to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to maintain the oil at 180° to 190°F, adjusting the heat as necessary.

While the fish is cooking, make the sauce: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat in a sauté pan. Add the scallions and cook over low heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic. Stir in half the shredded basil. Then add the tomatoes and vinegar, raise the heat to medium, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rest of the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the sauce onto 4 hot plates and put the pieces of fish on top. Garnish with basil leaves or herb flowers.

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