14 March 2013

Crispy Black Cod Fillets with Fennel Tzatziki and Lemony Orzo Risotto

Crispy Black Cod Fillets with Fennel Tzatziki and Lemony Orzo Risotto
With the awakening of Spring comes one of our eagerly awaited rituals. We head to our local fishmongers for sablefish, known by its more common name "black cod." Sablefish is highly prized for its intensely rich, buttery flavour and delicate texture. It is sometimes referred to by the nickname “butterfish.” Although commonly called “black cod,” this deep-sea fish, which can live up to 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) below the sea, is not part of the cod family at all. Old habits die hard. As early as the 1840s, when fishermen from the East migrated to the coast to take up their nets, practically all fish were dubbed cod. Red snapper, black rockfish, blue rockfish and even my beloved Ling cod, which is neither a ling nor a cod, fell to the same fate. Naturally, the name “black cod” was also attached to the sleek and softly textured sablefish, or Anoplopoma fimbria.

The peak season to purchase and prepare fresh black cod is NOW! The season is generally in the early Spring, beginning in March. Spring has truly arrived when we find this buttery fish at the market. Black cod is a moist and delicate fish that contains high amounts of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids containing nearly as much omega 3 as salmon. You can steam it, pan roast it until it’s crispy, sous vide it or do with it whatever you like. It has a high fat content, and is almost fool-proof, because even if you overcook it, it has such a high fat content it won’t dry out. Perfect for those fish-phobes out there! Perhaps the most surprising tip is about the black cod’s heart, which is not a heart at all but is a muscle hidden within the ear (not the cheek), with the consistency of a scallop. A delicacy I would love to try some day. I wonder if my fishmonger would have them?

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. 
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Chinese Proverb

Black cod are native to the Pacific Ocean and British Columbia but are primarily exported to Japan, therefore most recipes found will call for an Asian presentation with sake or miso somewhere in the mix that compliment the flavours nicely. Although this is delicious I was in the mood for the flavours of the Mediterranean. With sablefish in season and at a good price I happily scooped it up at one of our local fishmongers. It's texture lends well to a light breadcrumb coating with a hint of fennel. A tasty fennel tzatziki was the perfect accompaniment. I served it with a colourful Greek salad and some lemon orzo for a taste of the Mediterranean. What better way to welcome Spring. All recipes from the More Than Burnt Toast Kitchen.

**Crispy Black Cod Fillets with Fennel Tzatziki and Lemony Orzo Risotto**
Recipes from the More Than Burnt Toast Kitchen 

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (6-ounce) cod (sablefish) or halibut fillets
1 large egg white, beaten until frothy
2 cups (about) panko (japanese breadcrumbs) or fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons of olive oil for frying

Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, crushed fennel seeds, freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Remove fish from bag; discard marinade.

Brush with egg white; coat with panko or breadcrumbs. Turn over; repeat with seasoning, egg, and panko.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish. Cook until opaque in centre, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with tzatziki drizzled with olive oil.

**Fennel Tzatziki**

1 cup Greek-style yogurt
½ cup finely grated fennel
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves,  minced
Splash of ouzo ( a tasty addition at the suggestion of Peter of Kalofagas) or 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of olive oil

Spoon the yogurt into a fine mesh strainer lined with several layers of heavy-duty paper towels or cheesecloth and drain over a bowl for 15 to 20 minutes. In a separate small bowl add shredded fennel and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Allow to sit.

Discard liquid from yogurt bowl and scrape the yogurt into another bowl using a rubber spatula. Using your hands, squeeze fennel to extract as much liquid as possible. Add fennel and remaining ingredients to yogurt and stir well.

Makes 1 cup
**Lemony Orzo Risotto**

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick/1/2 cup butter) butter
3/4 cup minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon, plus1tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 cup frozen peas
6 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add orzo; sauté 5 minutes. Mix in 6 cups boiling water and salt. Simmer uncovered about 9 minutes. Add peas and juice of 1 lemon. Continue cooking until orzo is tender, liquid is absorbed, and risotto is creamy, stirring often, about another 9 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in lemon zest and parsley.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. A wonderfully tasty dish! This flavor combination is mouthwatering.



  2. Interesting education on black cod. I have seen it in restaurants and my husband has ordered it. Now I feel I should look out for it at the store and use your advice to make it at home.

    Your orzo recipe is what's really getting me here. I love orzo. This could be a great accompaniment to many dishes.

  3. The orzo is good Short Order. If I were not serving it with fish I would have added some grated Parmesan or feta..so good!!!

  4. I've never heard of "black cod" but am wanting to seek it out as this dish looks and sounds delicious!


  5. I've never heard of black cod but it was interesting reading about it. It looks and sounds very good!

  6. Thank you Elena. I had to Google translate your comment since I do not speak Spanish, Thank you very much for visiting my blog. Glad that you were curious.Here is your comment in English,

    "I think it's the first time I come to your blog, I've seen friends commenting on other blogs and curiosity I could, but I have not taken any disappointment, you have a good and entertaining blog, congratulations, I look forward to seeing you."

  7. Great article and delicious looking food!

  8. that crust sounds delicious! And I love the orzo risotto that you've paired this with. Yum!

  9. The fennel tzatziki really grabbed my attention! Can't wait to try it.

  10. gorgeous!... I adore black cod, it has a beautiful texture and taste. Looks so lovely x

  11. the flavors going on here!
    I mean I hate to sound like everyone else, but this whole ensemble sounds so good.

  12. You know my story with fish, but the orzo works well with so many dishes.

  13. Very appealing flavors here Val. I love anything with lemon. As much fish as we eat, I don't think I've ever had black cod. So far I haven't met a fish I didn't like, so I'll keep a eye out for it.

  14. What a glorious creation, Val. This sounds fantastically good. I love the ingredients you have used here. Your cod would make a perfect Lenten meal. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  15. What a lovely meal... I want this for dinner!

  16. Such a delicious looking meal! I don't think that I've tried black cod or butterfish. It could be called something different here in the states. I'll be on the lookout!

  17. I don't think I've ever seen black cod offered here. It sounds delicious though and I would love to try it if I can find it. Love your preparation and all of the information on black cod.

    I saw you comment regarding the email subscription feed. Thanks for the explanation!

  18. Fennel Tzatziki? I can't wait to try that! I'm going to have to search for black cod...don't think I've seen it at the fishmongers.
    Super plate of yummy things, Val!

  19. looks wonderful delicious presentation

  20. Wow Val! I'm loving all the flavours here, especially that fennel tzatziki! This is the 2nd time you've introduced me to a variation on tzatziki. Just stunning!

  21. Vuelvo a decirte que me quedo de seguidora tuya, hoy he estado leyendo tu blog mucho y me encanta.

    1. Thank you very much. Gracias.

      Google Translation -"Again I tell you I'm a follower of yours, today I have been reading your blog a lot and I love it.

  22. Oh wow. This looks amazing! You eat like a queen!

  23. Mmmmm, thanks for the delicious idea! I think it can be adapted to my diet :D. Love the Chinesse sentence!

  24. What a fabulous dinner! Love that delicous sounding tzatziki!

  25. I have a great fish market close by but don't think I have ever seen black cod there, or maybe I overlooked it, but I'm going to ask about it the next time I'm there. Your tzatziki sounds wonderful and so fresh tasting, Val. Love the addition of fennel. What a beautiful meal.

  26. Oh my, that looks and sounds wonderful! I'm off to Codfather's tomorrow!


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