Friday, June 13, 2008

Fishing for a frugal feast

Cod is extremely affordable, as well as being friendly to the American palate that shies away from distinctively flavored fish. It's got a light flavor, needs a light touch in the kitchen, and is underappreciated.

This recipe calls for fresh fennel. Fennel has made its way into our area markets, now, and the vegetable that looks like a cross between dill and cabbage has a flavor that can be imitated by no other ingredient.

This recipe will work with halibut, whitefish or swordfish. Just stay away from catfish, which could pick a fight with the fennel that you may not want to taste.

Poached cod with vegetables
4 cod fillets1 fennel bulb
2 carrots, cut into matchstick pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into strips
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup apple juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
a pinch of pepper

Rinse the fish in cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel.

Trim the fennel, keeping the narrow top stems and some of the feathery leaves. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and remove the core (toss the core). Cut it into matchstick pieces, similar to the carrots.

Spray a skillet with some cooking spray and add the vegetables. Cook over medium-high heat about a minute. Stir in 1/4 cup of the apple juice and half the salt. Cook 2 more minutes. Add some pepper, then set the vegetables aside on a dish to keep warm.

In the same skillet, add the fennel stems and leaves and the remaining apple juice. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and add the fish. Cook, turning once, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt.

Serve the fish (without the fennel stems and leaves) hot, with the vegetables.

Per serving: 202 calories, 1.5 grams of fat.