Cod is a culinary chameleon. It can be as pedestrian as a fish-and-chip dinner or as cosmopolitan as escabeche, a marinated dish that is one of Spain’s culinary gifts to the world. Instead of marinating the fish before cooking, the fish is marinated afterward, when the cod’s cells have swelled from heat and become more receptive to absorbing a spicy lemon, lime, and orange marinade. What a great make-ahead dish for a party. Grill a few cumin-rubbed fillets, soak the cooked fish in marinade, then serve it up to 2 days later, after the cod’s large flakes have absorbed as much marinade as they can possibly hold. Although completely unnecessary, a spoonful of creamy Caper Mayonnaise (recipe follows) makes this dish taste doubly great.
Makes 4 main-dish or 8 appetizer servings
1 1/2 cups Adobo Marinade (recipe follows)
1/2 cup sliced pimento-stuffed Spanish green olives
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 large jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cod fillets (about 6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup Orange-Cumin Rub (recipe follows)
- Combine the marinade, olives, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Light a grill for direct medium-high heat, about 425ºF. Preheat a fish basket on the grill.
- Coat the fish with olive oil, and then sprinkle the rub all over it. Brush the grill grate and coat the grate and the hot fish basket generously with oil. Put the fillets in the basket and the basket on the grill, directly over the heat. Cover and grill until the fish looks opaque on the surface, but is still filmy and moist in the center (an internal temperature of 130ºF), 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fillets to a large, shallow, nonreactive dish such as a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour the marinade mixture over the fish and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before serving.
Keep it Simple: Replace the orange-cumin rub with store-bought Mexican chili powder or Cajun seasoning.
Best with beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mild hot pepper sauce, such as Frank’s
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Mix everything together and use as directed in a recipe.
Best with chicken, turkey, shellfish, fish
Makes about 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground dried orange peel
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Mix everything together. Store in a tightly closed container for up to 1 month.
Cumin-Oregano Rub: (Best with pork, chicken, turkey.) Omit the orange peel and replace the chipotle chile with 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves.
Cumin-Thyme Rub: (Best with beef, veal, pork, chicken, turkey, shellfish, fish.) Omit the orange peel and replace the chipotle chile with 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Coarse Cumin Rub: (Best with beef, veal, pork, chicken, turkey, game meats.) Replace the ground cumin with 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds. Replace the orange peel and chipotle chile with 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds and 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds (removed from the green pods).
POURABLE HERBED MAYONNAISE
Best with beef carpaccio or tartare, shellfish, fish
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
1 large fresh egg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of ground white or black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
- Combine the egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup of the oil in a food processor. Process for a few seconds and then, with the machine running, gradually add the remaining oil in a thin, steady steam. Scrape down the sides and process until thickened and smooth, 10 to 15 seconds.
- Scrape into a bowl and stir in the parsley, tarragon, and just enough milk to make the sauce pourable. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Blender Mayonnaise: (Best with shellfish, fish.) Omit the milk, parsley, and tarragon.
Caper Mayonnaise: (Best with shellfish and fish.) Omit the milk. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons small drained capers (chop them if large) and 3 minced garlic cloves along with the herbs.
Tartar Sauce: (Best with shellfish and fish.) Make the Caper Mayonnaise and add 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or sweet pickles.