02 January 2010


When I don’t know what to cook, I usually turn to my trusty copy of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. Ok, by now you probably know I’m a real Nigel Slater fan. One reason that I always turn to this book is that whatever I find will be seasonal and prepared without too much fuss. It will also be delicious.

In October, Nigel prepared some haddock. It was simple, quick, and creatively done. I’ve used this recipe several times, with different fish and different herbs. It’s always good. This time I wanted something Japanese-y. I was craving the clean, distinct flavors of Japan, with its sticky rice and its crunchy fish and its tiny bits of sauces that pack a real WALLOP. I had a piece of cod that would be perfect if I could make it really crunchy and flavorful to go with the bland rice.

So I took Nigel’s idea and changed it (of course). I cut the fish into smaller pieces, I used a whole grain bread, I used parsley instead of tarragon. To be honest, if I’d had tarragon I’d have used it, but all I had in the soft fresh green category was flat leaf parsley. It worked perfectly! I served this with some sticky rice, some umiboshi paste, and some wasabi, because Dan loves wasabi. We also had some shredded cabbage for green crunch. YUM!

What makes this special is the anchovies in the bread crumb mixture. I know. Anchovies--ew. Trust me on this, they’re really good here. You don’t use enough to really taste them as anchovies, but they add a depth to the flavor that makes this simple dish very special. So go ahead, use them. Please.

Nigel’s Fish

adapted from Kitchen Diaries

450 g / 1 lb cod or any white flaky fish fillets

115 g / 1/4 lb bread

5 anchovy fillets

A good handful of flat leaf parsley

about a teacup of flour

1 egg

Salt and pepper

3-4 Tablespoons of a neutral-flavored oil

  • Rinse the anchovies and pat them dry. In a food processor, blitz the bread with the anchovy fillets and the parsley. You don’t really want the bread crumbs to be finefine--leave them a little coarse. But you DO want the anchovy fillets really blitzed in there, so go to town with it!
  • Put the flour in a dish big enough to hold the fish fillets, and add a little salt and a lot of pepper to it. Remember that the anchovies are salty, so you don’t want too much in this mixture.
  • Break the egg into another dish big enough to hold the fish fillets, and beat it lightly.
  • Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Dip the fillets in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. You really want a good coating of them, so if they don’t stick well, pat them on there with your hands.
  • When the oil is sizzling hot, add the fish fillets and cook gently until they’re golden--about 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness.
  • Turn carefully and cook another 2-3 minutes on the second side. Remover from the pan veryvery carefully and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don’t


  • I’ve made this with haddock and cod. It would also work with sea bass or any other meaty white fish.
  • Nigel uses tarragon in the bread crumbs. Use whatever fresh herb you have. I think it needs to be fresh, though. It’s really good with rosemary, with parsley, with sage. But it’s AMAZING with tarragon.
  • Normally I use olive oil whenever I can. I just like the flavor. Here, though, you really need an oil with no flavor. I used colza / canola / rapeseed oil.
  • If you’re not feeling Japanese, these are very good with mashed potatoes and a salad.
  • I used a 6-grain bread for this. The bread had a nice complex flavor all its own, and added a lot to the flavor, I think.

Thanks for the compliments on the new bannerhead. That photo was really serendipitous - we went to Aachen so that I could take some photos of the Christmas market, and it was closed! There was a holiday that I didn't know about, so all the booths were locked up tight and I only got two photos: the red star that I used for my Christmas bannerhead, and this one. This one was taken in a restaurant while we were waiting for our dinner. There were herb plants on the table with spots directly above. This rosemary plant was just BEGGING to have it's picture taken! I wanted to practice getting a shallow depth of field, so I snapped away. VOILA! Serendipity.


zurin said...

That looks so simple to do and yet looks so so so good and crispy an d flaky...I love fish and done this way it is perfect to dip in a sauce too and Im loving the rice!!

Hungry Dog said...

Hey, stop posting such delicious recipes, I can't keep up! ;) I still need to make that rabbit stew.

Seriously, this looks amazing. Anchovies in the breading--genius. I'm not afraid of those little guys--they can add such great (salty) depth!

sweetbird said...

This looks great. I'm thinking I might go out on a limb and try it with some swordfish I've got in the freezer.

Also, I felt the same way about anchovies in many dishes until I realized that there isn't usually enough to make it taste like anchovies - it just takes the flavor of the whole dish up to another level. Great advice!

lostpastremembered said...

Beautiful the fish recipe... genius with the anchovy in the breading... did you read about colatura on Mattbites? He was singing the praises of the stuff... salty fish seasoning -- the next big thing!!!

Kathy said...

Ahhh Kate!
It is an odd thing I just realized...I like to wait a couple days in between visits here.
When I do come I just realized I do it when I have extra time as I savor every post...bit by bit.
Like a fine wine!
Enjoy your gift for laying down the written word along with your fun style of explaination.
Thank You for dropping by and mentioning Nigel Slater...
I most certainly will look him up!
Your post on Paris and the NUTS took me from envy to laughter...
Christmas time in Paris...I can only dream.
Well my friend, carry on with this Serendipitous life of yours...I'll be watching!
xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...
Oh~ Love the new header also!

oneshotbeyond said...

The crispiness is trying to drag me in! :-)

Kate at Serendipity said...

Zurin, it IS simple. It's a little messy when you dip the fish in the flour, egg and bread crumbs, but that part's fun for me--like making mudpies! This was perfect with sticky rice. Just what I wanted to eat that night.

Hungry Dog, you're too funny! After you eat the rabbit stew you'll be wanting something lighter. Like this fish. I"m just looking out for you.

Sweetbird, let me know how this works with swordfish, ok? I'm wondering if it will be the same with a firm fish instead of a flaky one... You're right about anchovies--they're the turbo charger of flavor, I think.

Lostpastremembered, I'll have to check out Mattbites. Colatura, eh? I've never heard of it. LOL, at first I read coloratura, and wondered what opera had to do with it!

Awww, Kathy. I'm really touched. Is there anything nicer you can say to a blogger? Thank you.

Oneshotbeyond, go on, let yourself go. The crispiness is wonderful with the gooey rice. Or with noodles. Or with some mashed potatoes. Or maybe mashed celery root with parsnips. Oh, darn. Now I'm hungry.

Jane said...

MMmmmm, Kate, you've done it again. I might have to go the mashed potatoes and salad route in order to get the masses to appreciate this lovely fish, but I have to make those sorts of cooking compromises on a regular basis in my household (kids!). Your rosemary sprig in the banner is a fresh and luminous sight on this frigid Sunday morning--lovely!

Kristen said...

Delicious! I love these photos and this recipe along with your adaptations sounds divine!

La Table De Nana said...

I tried coming twice and got the previous post..and then no Blogger:( Glad I finally got here..I am relentless as you can see..I just want to say 2 words..GORGEOUS PICS!

Syrie said...

Gorgeous. I'd like to try this crumbled over pasta with a good lick of olive oil. Thanks for sharing.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Anchovies have umami....I love the flavours, clean, hot, spicy and refreshing all in one. Yummy, especially since I'm not too successful a cod-cooker....

Grace said...

even as a fish-hater, i can appreciate the awesome texture and delightful breading on these bad boys. the parsley would make all the difference for me!

nooschi said...

This looks delicious. I like the anchovies in this recipe...very different.

Peggy said...

this looks great! I love the use of the anchovies! Most people are so scared of them, but the majority of the time, they're just used in things to add an extra salt flavor! I love it!

Divina Pe said...

The breading sounds flavorful and and texture is crispy. I absolutely love the photo.

Erynn said...

I made this tonight, and it was really truly delicious. Thanks, you have just redefined the way I fry fish.

Devery said...

Prepared this tonight using cod; husband and I both loved it. This was my first time using a Nigel Slater recipe. I'll definitely have to try more. Thanks !