Monday, May 13, 2013

Sautéed Lingcod with Creamy Pea Purée

The beauty of fish and seafood is that you can enjoy these 'treasures of the sea' every day of the month without eating the same thing twice. Buttery lingcod is a delicious low-fat fish that has a deliciously mild, slightly sweet flavour with a firm, almost dense texture, that turns white when cooked. Typically found on the North American Pacific coast, especially in the coastal waters of British Columbia, Lingcod isn’t a cod at all — it's actually a member of the greenling family, but gets its name from the cod-like appearance of it’s meat. A versatile fish, Lingcod's firm, sweet flesh yields great flavour, whether baked, broiled, grilled or added to soups, stews and even fish tacos.

Fish: Recipes from the Sea by Phaidon Press

This recipe for Sautéed Lingcod with Creamy Pea Purée was adapted from one featured in Fish: Recipes from the Sea, which first appeared in a 2012 issue of Saveur. Although the article suggested using cod, I couldn't resist the fresh pink lingcod that I found at Diana's Seafood last week, and used it instead. The natural culinary marriage between white fish and fresh peas is pure magic, and this easy recipe makes the most of these sensational springtime flavours.

Lingcod coated with mustard seeds

The lingcod is simply sprinkled with mustard seeds and chilled for an hour or two. Meanwhile, a creamy pea purée is started by sautéeing a finely chopped shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Two cups of fresh or frozen peas are then added along with a cup of water, and allowed to reduce for 10 minutes. Most of the peas are then puréed in a food processor with a little cream and seasoned with salt and pepper, and the pea purée is done.

Shallots are sautéed until soft then peas and water are added and cooked further

The mixture is reduced for about 10 minutes

Most of the pea mixture is puréed with cream, 
producing a fresh and flavourful crème du petits pois

The lingcod takes very little time to cook. A skillet is warmed over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, the lingcod is added, mustard seed side down, and cooked for 4 minutes. The fish is turned over and cooked an additional 4 minutes.

A tablespoon of olive oil is warmed over medium-high heat

The lingcod is added to the pan and sautéed 4 minutes per side

There's a delicate balance between perfectly cooked fish and overcooked fish. It's always good to remember the principle of residual heat: a pan will hold heat when it's removed from the heat source, continuing to cook the food for several minutes. For best results, cook fish until it's almost done, then remove the pan from the oven, stovetop or grill and let it stand for a few minutes to finish cooking. Some fish, especially tuna and salmon, can be served medium rare, but the choice is up to you. I found that the 4-minute per side was perfect for the lingcod.

After 8 minutes the lingcod is perfectly cooked with a moist and flakey centre

To serve the dish, divide the creamy pea purée among 2 pre-warmed serving plates and top with the sautéed lingcod. The reserved shallot-pea sauce is spooned over the fish, sprinkled with chopped dill and garnished with some larger sprigs of dill for show. Easy, healthy and delicious, this dish is positively bursting with springtime flavours and looks great!

Sautéed Lingcod with a Creamy Pea Purée
Serves 2

3/4-pound Lingcod filet, cut into 2 pieces
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen, thawed peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cream
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp roughly chopped dill and whole sprigs, to garnish

Sprinkle the lingcod evenly with mustard seeds and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, heat butter in a 10" skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, 1 cup of water, salt and pepper, and cover partially with a lid. Cook until the mixture is reduced, about 10 minutes. Set the sauce aside and keep warm. 

Purée 3/4 of the peas, cream, and salt and pepper in a food processor, then transfer to a small saucepan to keep warm over low heat. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cod and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Season with salt. To serve, divide the pea purée among 2 serving plates and top with the cod. Spoon over the shallot-pea sauce, sprinkle with chopped dill and garnish with some larger sprigs for show.