25 November 2012

Baked cod on pea puree with beurre blanc sauce

Now here's something a little bit different for Jenny Eatwell's Rhubarb & Ginger - a fish dish!

We really enjoy eating fish.  Let me say that straight away.  However (and you knew one of those was coming, didn't you?), we just don't get the opportunity very often.  Which is completely ridiculous, considering that a) we live 2 minutes (literally) from the sea and b) we'll give a go to pretty much anything that came out of it!

Hubby has a few issues with river fish - he doesn't like the muddy flavour of River Cobbler, for instance.  Bottom feeders aren't his bag, at all.

However, if we could only find a supplier of affordable sea fish - you'd see it on the blog far more often than you do.

So, if anyone out there in blog-readership-land knows of a reliable and affordable fishmongler (both in the Bournemouth/Poole area and online - I don't mind either or both), let me know.

The only fishmonglers I've found locally, are in the "monied" areas of town and so their prices are astronomical.  The only one who isn't, is fabled as not selling truly fresh fish - so he's a non-starter.

It really annoys me that we live so close to the sea, yet cannot source fresh fish unless we go to the supermarket - and then it's likely to have been previously frozen.  I don't want supermarket fish - I want fish that's come straight off the boat!  Grrrrr!

Having said that, I now have to admit that the fish we used here was from our local Asda.  It was on special offer and looked particularly nice.  In fact, hubby was planning to make some fish cakes with it, but came to the conclusion that it would be criminal to munch up such a beautiful piece of fish - so this was what we wound up with.

I reckon he was quite right!

Anyway, I'll hand over to hubby, to talk you through the recipe :

See that photo up there?  Looks nice doesn't it?  Maybe even classy.  Pea puree, buerre blanc sauce, blimey!  Well, let me tell you a little secret - it's easy.  Almost unbelievably easy, and the results, well, just ask the lovely Ms Eatwell or the infamously hard to please, son and heir.  Oh, and by the way, a little veggie chopping aside, this whole dish takes only 25 minutes to prepare - honest!

The method described for for the buerre blanc sauce is the basic method.  There are probably more variations than you can shake a pointy baguette at.  For instance, rosemary, thyme and tarragon would transform it into a perfect sauce for chicken.

19 April 2013 : Every week when we do the menu plan for the coming week, we ask son & heir whether he has any special requests.  For the last four or five weeks, he's been asking for this cod on pea puree with buerre blanc sauce.  Now unfortunately, it's not that easy to achieve as the situation hasn't changed much with regard to fishmonglers over here (I have heard of one possibility, but have yet to get over there when they are open.  We've been twice (so far) and they've been shut both times - so we're not doing very well).  Aaaanyway, we waited until we could afford it - Asda had some nice cod fillets in again and we swooped upon them quickly.
Nothing has changed - except the Dill .... lol

Hubby made the recipe as per his instructions below (which he was glad of, because he'd forgotten how to do parts of it, it'd been so long!) but made a couple of changes to the buerre blanc sauce.  In the first instalment, he'd used salted butter but hadn't felt that was quite right, so used unsalted this time.  I have to admit, the buerre blanc was so much smoother and utterly delightful, so he obviously was quite right about it.  He also reduced the cream quantity to one tablespoonful, but added a little tarragon to the sauce at the very end, which was a very good addition that went really well with the pea puree.  Also, who knew that buerre blanc is so scrumptious on plain steamed carrots?  ~shrug~  Amazing.

I can understand why son & heir loves this dish so much.  The fish is just such a treat - to have large flakes of white fish on your fork, with your own choice of accompaniment from the plate, is something that doesn't happen often.  Usually, our fish is in a mungle with some other ingredients - such as Tuna Pasta Bake, or Kedgeree - all of which are perfectly nice, but they just don't compare with this cod dish.  The message is clear, therefore - if you can, when you can, have a go at this.  You won't regret it.



150g frozen peas
3-5 fresh mint leaves (depending on how big they are)
50ml double cream
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp plus 25ml lemon juice
500ml good fish stock  (I used Essential Cuisine's fabulous fish stock powder)
6 & 4 whole black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
600g unsmoked cod (or other firm fleshed fish)
a small bunch of fresh dill
100ml white wine
2 banana shallots, very finely diced
150-175g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes.

Method  :

For the Pea Puree

Place the frozen peas and a splash of water into a high sided bowl and microwave for five minutes.  Drain the peas and then return to the bowl along with the mint leaves.  Puree the peas using a hand blender, adding a tiny amount of double cream (or milk) until the desired consistency is reached.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and up to 1 tsp lemon juice if needed.  Cover the bowl and set aside to stay warm.

For the fish

Pour 300ml of the fish stock into a deep roasting dish and add a few peppercorns, and two of the bay leaves.  Lay the fish into the stock, adding more stock to almost cover the fish. Sprinkle the fish with dill fronds and then place the dish into an oven, pre-heated to 325degF/170degC/Gas 3 for 20 minutes.  This cooking time is recommended for chunky cod fillets but may need to be reduced for thinner pieces of fish.

For the buerre blanc sauce

1.  Place the white wine and lemon juice (white wine vinegar can be substituted) in a saucepan over a high heat.  Add the shallots, the remaining bay leaf and a few whole peppercorns and bring to a fast boil.  The liquids in the pan need to be reduced by about three quarters or until they become syrupy.

2.  Add the remaining 30ml of double cream to the pan and continue to cook and stir on a high heat until the emulsion reaches coating consistency.  Remove the pan from the heat and reduce the heat to very low.

3.  Now add a cube of cold butter to the pan, keeping it off the heat.  Whisk until the cube of butter has almost dissolved before adding the next cube.  Repeat this process for the rest of the butter, returning the pan to the heat when the butter's melting slows down.  This process is a critical one.  The sauce must not be allowed to get hotter than about 60degC otherwise it will split.  This is why the cubes of butter must be cold when added.  Conversely, the sauce must not be allowed to cool too much, so returning the pan to a low heat every so often is essential to warm it back up.  Continue this process, whisking continuously, until the sauce is glossy and reaches the consistency that you require. It can then be left in a warm pan, taking care not to let it come to the boil. 

4.  Season to taste and add a little lemon juice if the sauce tastes at all 'flat'.  The sauce can be served as it is or, for a more refined finish, can be passed through a fine sieve to remove the shallots and peppercorns.

To serve

Smooth as much or as little
pea puree as required onto a warmed plate.  Place a fillet of drained fish on top of the puree and serve with a selection of steamed vegetables.  Pour a generous amount of the buerre blanc sauce over the fish and vegetables and serve with a well chilled, crisp white wine.

Printable version


  1. This looks gorgeous. I love pea puree and the beure blanc is a winner.

    And I am really with you on affordable fish. I live in London and my nearest fishmonger is very good. Unfortunately the prices reflect it - in the summer I nearly fainted when buying 4 uncooked king prawns - 12 quid! Were they fed on gold? I was too embarassed to admit I couldn't afford them and shuffled off with my week's budget on meat and fish!

    Have you thought of buying fish online?

    1. TWELVE QUID? ~faint~ Ludicrous.

      Yes, I have - and would - buy online, but there are so many people selling online now, it is hard to know who is good and who isn't! That's why I was hoping for a recommendation, you see. ;)

  2. Just to let you know that your link to Food on Friday: Go Bananas was featured in my Need Some Inspiration? Series today. Have a nice week.


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