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.
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
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.