Being Portuguese I was always used to eating a lot of fish! We have fish markets all over the place and the fish really is amazing and so much cheaper than here in the US - it just is! We have a fishing and canning tradition where sardines take a special place: I like them canned but not so much grilled...too much bones - however if you put them on a piece of bread after grilling them, the sauce that you get on that bread is so yummy and totally worth it! Sardines are usually eaten all through the summer months but we continue to eat other varieties of fish throughout the whole year.
Cod is another fish that Portuguese consume the most. In average, in 2007, each Portuguese consumed around 55 Kg of fish and they were also responsible for eating 20% of all the cod fished worldwide. So, we do love fish and we know how to cook it! There are hundreds of recipes for cod and, usually, the most humble and simple are the most tasty. When I was still in Portugal I had the honor to be invited to the Riberalves facility - it is the largest facility of cod processing in the world, handling over 30 thousand tons/year. I had a tour to the inside of the facility and saw all the steps through which the fish goes until it is frozen, packed and shipped. What an amazing experience! I also left with several pounds of cod for myself which was amazing!
I also had a truly rewarding experience! I already had a cooking blog when I was in Portugal and I won, not only the day visit to the facility but also a cooking workshop with the world renowned Portuguese chef José Avillez! I had the pleasure of cooking beside him and other bloggers who also won that opportunity and we had lunch over several amazing dishes cooked by us with the help of chef Avillez. It was a day to remember and I'll always cherish that memory. I've learned so much about cod, cooking skills and also had the privilege to have lunch and to get to know a bit of someone I never thought I'd come to meet.
Here I was, all happy and proud, in the company of the Michelin star chef!
This year, just last month chef Avillez was awarded the "Grand Prix de lÁrt de la Cuisine", in Paris. One of his restaurants, Belcanto in Lisbon was awarded two Michelin stars and it's worth of any food lovers visit. I could go on and on about the amazing Portuguese chefs but I'll get back to my recipe. After all, it was cooked by me and inspired by the traditional flavors of the Portuguese cuisine which inspire us all to keep looking for original and creative recipes with simple ingredients.
The tomato sauce used for this recipe was made ahead and it's a great staple to have in the fridge. It freezes very well so you can make a big batch of it and freeze it in mason jars to have at hand anytime you need them. You can use it to make pasta dishes (if you're not doing a Whole30 and, if you are, this sauce is amazing with zoodles!), vegetarian lasagna, seafood dishes or any recipe that would pair well with tomato, for sure! Making it ahead and letting it rest in the fridge for a couple of days gives it a deeper flavor that will enhance the natural flavor of any protein you use. It worked perfectly with the Northwest Pacific Cod I used, from Sea to Table.
Homemade tomato sauce -
This was the sauce after getting cooked but before being blended. My kitchen smelled amazing! This will be an essential I'll be prepping for the next Sunday meal preps, for sure!
Sorry about the messy stove top but it's what you get when you start cooking and meal prepping during half a Sunday. I'd rather have a messy stove top than a messy diet, I can tell you that! Cooking makes me happy, not so much the cleaning part...but you got to do what you got to do, right?!
After cooling down I poured it into a mason glass jar and kept it in the fridge alongside my other prepped meals and veggies for the week.
Now, on to the cod in homemade tomato sauce recipe!
1 - Start by peeling and slicing your onion. Cook it in live oil until translucent. Season with salt, pepper and bay leaf and then, when you feel the onion starts to caramelize and change color, turn the heat to low and keep cooking it until you see the perfect golden color. At that stage your onion is cooked. Add the olives to the onion and reserve.
2 - The second step is getting your homemade tomato sauce on a sauce pan and turn on the heat, on low, to start getting it warm. Microwaving it really isn't an option because you need to get the sauce warm enough to get all the flavors going! While this gets going you'll go on with the rest of the dish.
3 - Cook your cod portion in a pan. I used a non-stick pan and just brushed the cod itself with the olive oil, not the pan. To do this you must be sure that you have a pretty good pan. If in doubt add also a bit of olive oil to the pan so the fish won't stick. Let the cod cook for about 5 minutes on one side or until you can see it's halfway cooked. Turn the fish over and cook for another 4 minutes or until you can see that is perfectly cooked. When you have a pretty good quality cod I feel you don't need to season it - it's naturally salty and this way you can taste it perfectly for what it is. A perfectly cooked piece of amazing cod!
4 - Cook the baby broccoli in a bit of olive oil, just enough for it to wilt a bit. About 5 minutes is enough!
5 - Time to assemble your plate: start by placing the tomato sauce, that was heated in a pan, on the bottom on a deep dish. Add your cod portion and add the baby broccoli on the sides of the plate. Place the caramelized onion and olives on top of the cod or just place the olives like I did in the picture. Turned our pretty and super tasty!
I always like to have some finishing touches with fresh herbs and fresh dill was perfect to go with the cod and the tomato sauce. I think dill is an underrated herb and people usually associate it with salmon but it goes so well with other fish and also in salads! Give it a try and you'll be amazed at the freshness and fragrance of this beautiful herb!
If these pictures don't make you feel like running out the door to get some amazing cod I don't know what will! I'm an absolute fan of fish but having wild caught, sustainable fish is totally different from having farmed fish...most of the times there are very unpleasant additives to the fish food and there are also added colors! In a time when we're so concerned about buying organic when it comes to produce we should also be very concerned about the quality of the protein we use in our diet. It can certainly be cheaper but I consider it an investment in my family's future health, not a waste of money. Wast is when you feel like your money went with the wind and you didn't get anything back - with wild caught and sustainable options, like this one, you can have great quality protein and delicious meals with all the nutritional and health advantages.
For more information on the fish from Sea2Table head over to their website, here, and take a look at what they have to offer. At the moment they have several promotional offers going on, including the "Fish Lover's Box" with 14 full size servings of all seven of their seafood varieties, all for under $80! It's a great opportunity to try their fish and seafood and the prize is absolutely amazing!
With this box you'll get two servings of the following varieties:
There are also two other great options: the starter pack and the discovery pack with a smaller amount of fish to let you know some specific varieties. From there you can make the decision to try the other varieties or not, it's totally up to you!
As for me, it seems like I'll have to get one of those Fish Lover's Box...after all it's Valentine's Day!
Celebrate it with great food and healthy habits!