Cooking with cider is just as rewarding as drinking it…well, almost. But if you like having a glass of cider while you’re working in the kitchen there will inevitably come a moment when you find you need a little extra liquid for some recipe and think, why not cider? Why not indeed. What you’ll find is that cider, like wine, can do magical things for many dishes. And in an effort to encourage you to explore cooking with cider, each final Friday of the month I will post a recipe that I hope will inspire you to give cooking with cider a try.
This month’s recipe is a variation on a wonderful fish dish cooked for me by Jonatan Meana, the talented young chef at the restaurant El Cruce in Gijon, Asturias. Jonatan graciously invited me into his kitchen during early morning prep and demonstrated a whole range of modern Asturian recipes that incorporate sidra (Asturian cider). He used monkfish, but I’ve chosen a true cod. Any meaty mild, flavored fish would do just as nicely. For the cider, you’ll want something tart and dry. An Asturian sidra would be marvelous, but there are any number of New World ciders that would fit the bill. Farnum Hill’s Extra Dry, Virtue Cider’s Sidra, Dragon Head’s Wild Fermented, or a Troy Cider would all be excellent choices.
- 1 lb potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
- 2 Tbsp of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup plus 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 dried spicy chili peppers, such as chile de arbol, left whole
- 4 4 – 5 oz cod fillets
- ½ cup sidra
- 1 Tbsp parsley, finely minced
- salt and ground black pepper
First, preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes and slice them into 3/8 inch rounds. Put the them in a pot with enough water to cover by about ½ inch, add a healthy pinch of salt ,then simmer until just cooked through (they’ll be easily pierced by a sharp knife, but will still have a bit of resistance). Drain the potatoes and keep them warm.
Meanwhile, heat ½ cup of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and the whole chilis. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic has softened and developed just a little color, but don’t let it brown. This will allow the pectins in the garlic to release into the liquid and help to thicken the sauce, but they’ll break down if the garlic is cooked too much. Add the sidra, raise the heat, and simmer vigorously until the liquid has been reduced by half.
For the fish, season the pieces well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 3 – 4 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When you can see the surface of the oil rippling just a little, add the fish to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the heat so that the fish cooks but doesn’t really brown much. Turn the pieces over, then put the pan in the oven for 5 or 6 minutes so the fish can finish cooking.
To serve, arrange slices of potato in a shallow bowl or a serving plate. Place the fish pieces on top of the potatoes, then cover with the sauce (remove the chilis before you do this). Finish with a little sprinkle of parsley. Serve with a tart, dry cider.