Tender cod baked with lemony garlic oil is delicate, flavorful and easy
If you're always on the lookout for new ways to prepare quick-cooking, frozen fish fillets for weeknight suppers, add this one to your lineup.
Frozen fish are often the most convenient, less expensive and more sustainable way to go, but in my experience, the result can be hit or miss when it comes to the fish's quality. This recipe offers a little insurance even if your fillet is not optimal.
Here, a generous bath of flavorful olive oil turns a frozen cod fillet into a silky, delicate delight.
The unfussy recipe recalls the classic technique of poaching fish in olive oil over a low, slow heat, but in this case, the fish is dusted with a little cornstarch and placed in an ovenproof pan before a generous mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic is poured over.
You turn the fish to coat it in the oil, sprinkle it with sweet paprika and a bit of cayenne, and roast it at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until it flakes. That's it, although it could take a touch longer if your fillets are thick.
A nice grassy olive oil penetrates the fillet, but if you prefer to use a more neutral oil, consider adding a bit more garlic or paprika to compensate.
The technique is the thing here, so try it with other white-fleshed fish fillets or salmon as well; and if you're not a fan of garlic, you can add thinly sliced onions or leeks. In place of the sweet paprika and cayenne pepper, you could sprinkle over your own favorite dry herbs, such as oregano or thyme.
The resulting flavored oil can then be spooned over a grain, pasta or steamed vegetables on the side. We decided on protein-rich tricolor quinoa.
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Lemon-Garlic Baked Cod With Quinoa
Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes
This quick, nutritious fish dish from "The Wellness Principles" cookbook comes together so quickly, you'll have plenty of time to steam or pan-fry vegetables or make a big salad to go alongside it. Here, we added tri-color quinoa to the plate. Cod, a white fish, doesn't have as much omega-3 fatty acids as salmon, but it is readily available and a good source of quality protein, says cookbook author Gary Deng.
Storage Notes: Refrigerate the cod for up to 2 days; the quinoa for up to 4 days.
FOR THE QUINOA
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon fine salt, divided
1 cup (6-1/2 ounces) uncooked quinoa, preferably tricolor
FOR THE COD
4 (1-1/2-inch thick) skinless cod filets (5 to 6 ounces each), thawed if frozen
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
Pinch of sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1-1/2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. (If the quinoa is still wet, uncover, increase the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute.) Remove from the heat and keep covered.
While the quinoa is cooking, pat the cod dry, then sprinkle with the cornstarch, the remaining salt and the black pepper.
Slice the lemon in half. Juice half and slice the other half into 4 wedges.
In a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, or one of a similar size so that all of the fillets can fit in one layer with some space in between, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.
Add the fish and turn to coat in the olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with the paprika and cayenne, if using. Scoop up some of the garlic and spoon it on top of the fish.
Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the oven.
To serve, mound the quinoa on each plate, top with a fish fillet, spoon some of the pan juices over the quinoa and fish, and add a lemon wedge.
Adapted from "The Wellness Principles" by Gary Deng (Phaidon, 2022).