- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA

HYDE PARK, N.Y. - A favorite of the New England Atlantic coast, cod is lean, flaky and delicate. Seafood lovers and fish novices alike enjoy its mild flavor and tender bite.

Whether it’s baked, poached, steamed or grilled, cod adds delicious and nutritious versatility to everyday menus.

To determine its level of freshness, rely on your nose, fingers and eyes. Fish should have a clean, briny scent; its flesh should be moist and firm; and its color should be bright with no hint of browning. Cod, in particular, should be snow white.

“It is best to purchase fish the same day you intend to use it,” says Michael Skibitcky, lecturing instructor in culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America. “If need be, store fresh fish for up to two days in the refrigerator. To keep it fresh and free of moisture, place it in a watertight plastic bag with as little air left inside as possible, and bury the bag in a container of ice. The fish should maintain a temperature between 33 to 38 degrees.”

While a fresh product is always ideal, frozen fish can offer an acceptable substitute. This is because many varieties of seafood are now frozen immediately after they are caught by using blast freezers. The fish freezes very quickly without the large ice crystals that form when you try the same thing in your home freezer. As long as the fish is properly thawed, there is relatively little difference between the flavor, moisture and texture of a frozen fish and a fresh one. Keep frozen fish in the freezer until you are ready to thaw it. Most fish thaws evenly and safely overnight in the refrigerator.

This recipe is from the Culinary Institute of America’s “Gourmet Meals in Minutes” cookbook (Lebhar-Freidman).

Seared cod in a rich broth with fall vegetables

11/4 pounds fettuccine pasta

21/4 pounds cod fillet

4 ounces (4 cups) dried shiitake mushrooms

teaspoon salt, or to taste

teaspoon ground white pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cups vegetable broth

1 pound haricots verts, cut into 1-inch lengths, blanched

5 ounces carrot (about 2 mediums carrots), cut into thin strips, blanched

5 ounces yellow turnip (1 medium), cut into thin strips, blanched

5 ounces white turnip (1 medium), cut into thin strips, blanched

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

3 ounces (1 cup) enoki mushrooms, cut into 1-inch lengths

3 tablespoons chives, cut into -inch lengths

3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender to the bite. Cut the cod into 6 portions. Refrigerate until needed. Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms to a powder in a spice grinder. Blot the cod pieces with paper towels to remove excess moisture, and season with a small amount of salt and pepper. Dredge each piece in the ground mushrooms.

Add the oil to a preheated saute pan over medium-high heat, and saute the cod until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cod to a baking dish and bake in the preheated oven until thoroughly cooked, about 6 to 7 minutes. While the cod is baking, bring the broth to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the pasta, haricots verts, carrots, turnips and ginger. Simmer until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer the broth, pasta and vegetables to large soup plates. Arrange the pasta to make a bed for the cod in the center of the plate. Place the cod on the pasta and garnish with the enoki mushrooms and three-quarters teaspoon of both chives and scallions.

Makes 6 servings.

ASSOCIATEDPRESS

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