Pan Seared Cod in Thai Broth
This recipe, which comes from my mother Corky Pollan, is at once exotic and incredibly simple to prepare. Traditionally it is made with cod, a fishery that on the East Coast is in trouble, but it can be made with any mild, white-fleshed fish. (Remove the skin if possible.) The recipe will be included in The Pollan Family Table, a cookbook written by Corky Pollan and my sisters, Dana Pollan, Tracy Pollan and Lori Pollan, forthcoming from Scribner.
For the broth:
14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
For the fish:
4 6-ounce cod fillets, or substitute any sustainable white fish
1 tablespoon olive oil
24 baby spinach leaves, plus 20-24 for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, lime juice, wine, and fish sauce. Add the curry paste, garlic, and tamarind, and stir well to blend. Add the sugar, coriander, and ginger. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Place an ovenproof skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil, and when it shimmers, add the cod fillets. Allow them to sear on one side for 3 minutes, then turn and sear the other side for about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until opaque in the center, about 8 minutes.
3. In the bottom of each of four wide soup bowls, place a fish fillet and 6 spinach leaves. Pour an equal portion of broth into each bowl, and garnish each bowl with four or five leaves floating on top.