Today’s post features a delightful way to cook fish and side dish at the same time. To make this dish, the leeks are started then the cod is laid on top after the leeks have had a head start. The fish will steam while the leeks finish cooking. Steamed cod with leeks cooks quickly, about 20 minutes or so. If serving another vegetable with the meal start it while waiting for the leeks to cook.
You’ll recall we’ve used leeks before to make Leek and Potato Soup and more recently to make Colcannon for St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to being low in calories, leeks have some additional nutritional value. They’re a good source of the minerals manganese and iron, as well as vitamins A and C and folate (source). They are also rich in Vitamin K which has recently been shown to aid in cognitive function (source) In my area, leeks tend to be expensive compared to their cousins onion and garlic so I buy them to use in specific recipes. I haven’t tried growing them, but they’re supposed to be relatively care free.
I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where the seafood industry is an important part of the local economy. It’s relatively easy to buy locally caught seafood, especially shrimp, crabs and shellfish. For those who don’t fish themselves, locally caught product is available, but it’s more common to buy frozen fish or fish that’s been shipped in from other regions, like tuna or salmon. Unfortunately, the most common commercially caught varieties of wild fish (Atlantic cod, salmon, tuna and sea bass) are in danger of population collapse due to over fishing. (Read more about it in this book, or check out this documentary (affiliate links)). Fortunately there’s a group called Seafood Watch that was established to help consumers make smart choices when selecting fish. You’ll find their guide here which will help guide you into making sustainable seafood choices whenever possible.
This method of cooking fish will serve you all year round. Any firm white fish can be cooked by this method, although the cooking times will vary. In the summer you could use sliced yellow squash, zucchini, onions and tomato (aka ratatouille). Bok choy is another good choice for using the method. Whichever vegetable you choose, the only equipment you’ll need is a large skillet with a lid…which makes for easy cleanup, too.
Rick and I had cod cooked this way in Spain. They used wine, but I didn’t have any white wine when I made this batch. I used a mix of water and white balsamic vinegar instead. Lemon juice would work, too.
- 1 pound cod filet or other firm white fish
- 2 leeks, trimmed, sliced and rinsed of grit
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine OR ½ cup water and 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar OR juice of half a lemon
- salt, pepper and paprika to taste
- In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the leeks and saute until they start to turn golden. Season the leeks to taste with salt and pepper.
- Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper while the leeks are cooking.
- Add the wine or water and top the leeks with the seasoned cod filets.
- Cover the skillet with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep an eye on it to make sure the liquid doesn't evaporate, reduce the heat even more (and add more liquid) if necessary.
- The fish is finished when the color turns opaque and the tip of a knife penetrates easily. The fish will flake, too. Start checking around 8 minutes for a ½ inch filet. It's better to under cook and have to return the fish to the heat than to overcook as the fish will get very tough.
- Before serving, sprinkle the fish with a little paprika to add color and a little smoky flavor.