Bacalao Fresco en Refrito

Roast Cod with a Hot Garlic and Chilli Dressing

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VISITING A SPANISH FISH MARKET CAN BE LIKE VISITING A PARALLEL UNIVERSE. THE FISH AND SEA CREATURES ALL LOOK STRANGELY FAMILIAR BUT ALL SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT. THERE ARE DORADA, WHICH ARE SIMILAR TO OUR BREAM, AND PARGO, WHICH AS FAR AS I CAN WORK OUT ARE SNAPPER. THERE ARE THE WILDLY SOUGHT-AFTER MERLUZA (HAKE) — A FEARSOME-LOOKING CREATURE WE DON’T HAVE. THEN THERE’S BACALAO FRESCO, OR FRESH COD: SWEET, FIRM-FLESHED WHITE FISH WE SIMPLY DON’T FIND IN OUR WATERS. WE’RE USING GROPER HERE TO MAKE THIS SIMPLE BUT LIVELY ROASTED FISH DISH. IT’S STARTED OFF IN AN EXTREMELY HOT PAN OR FLAT GRILL, FINISHED IN A MODERATE OVEN AND DRESSED WITH AJADA — A HOT OIL FLAVOURED WITH GARLIC AND CHILLI.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.2 kg (2 lb 9 oz) skinless groper or blue-eye trevalla fillets, each cut into two pieces

Ajada

  • 160 ml ( fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 red bullet or other medium-hot chillies, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy-based ovenproof frying pan over high heat. Add the fish pieces, season well and cook for 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to the oven, then bake for 6-8 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, to make the ajada, heat the olive oil in a small heavy-based frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic and shake the pan for 1 minute, or until the garlic is golden but not burnt. Add the chilli and stir for 30 seconds, then stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

Place the cooked fish fillets on warm plates, spoon the ajada over and serve immediately.