Have you ever reflected on what you used to eat, how you cooked/what you cooked in the past versus the present? What ingredients were you using? Were the ingredients seasonal, were the dishes complex or were they straight-forward and rustic? Have you learned anything new in the kitchen..technique, new garnish or passion for a new ingredient?
I keep a notepad for recipes, ideas, things I want to try or to jot down ideas that have a germ of turning into a wonderful idea. A notepad also helps ensure that when a recipe appears on this blog that what you, the readers are getting, is an accurate instruction and ingredient listing. Sometimes a dish is spontaneous, some ideas arrive by accident or many attempts are made to better a recipe until it’s worthy of posting. There’s always room for improvement but when a dish appears on this blog – it’s worth trying out in the kitchen.
The notion of wrapping fish in potatoes and cooking came from watching this done by restaurant and celebrity chefs on TV. I was smitten with the idea and I’ve always wanted to make, present and eat such a dish. This approach to cooking a fish has been swirling in my head for a few years and it probably got pushed to the backburner when I saw a home cook try to do this dish on what of those cooking reality shows where a group of five home cooks takes turns entertaining and cooking. Points are awarded and the home cook with the most points from their competitors wins.
The fellow that tried to wrap his fish in potatoes and pan-sear them in a skillet failed miserably: potatoes felt apart and they weren’t crispy at all. Suffice to say, he didn’t win the cooking/entertaining competition either! Why would anyone want to wrap a fillet of fish with potatoes and cook it? Because you can, I wanted to and from a tasting perspective, the crisp potatoes become an outer layer of the fish: offering a different crispyness to your protein and protecting the actual fish from drying out while pan-frying. If that’s not enough for you will surely appreciate that this is one helluva sexy dish.
Having just spent three days at a Toronto food show, meeting some of Canada’s top chefs, it was refreshing to hear many of them returning to dishes that are stripped down, not too complex with a focus in the kitchen on sourcing quality ingredients. Chef Mark McEwan said, “it’s an insult when pretty food has no taste at all”. We all eat with our eyes but in the end, the food also has to smell and taste good and I think we have a winner with this dish.
The mystery to this dish is how to wrap a fillet of fish with potatoes? Nothing to complex – thinly slice the potatoes, lightly fry them until soft then blot on paper towels. Voila, your fish is ready to be wrapped in potatoes. The key here is thinly slicing the potatoes and you will yield best (and consistent) results if you slice them thinly with a mandoline.
Larger potatoes will be easier to work with (less potato slices to overlap and wrap) but again, you will get the same result. You could place some cling wrap over your work surface to make wrapping the fish in potatoes easier or simply using an offset spatula to lift and wrap the potatoes around the fish will work too!
This dish looks more complex than it is – which is a relief for many of you reading this post – you can pull this recipe off!I recommend using (buy one if you don’t have one) a mandoline, some light frying of potatoes, use starchy Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, quality Greek olive oil and use your imagination when flavouring the fish. On this day, I threw in some fresh parsley, capers, garlic, lemon zest and oregano into a food processor and made a paste for rubbing on the fish.
Smear the sauce on the fish, wrap with your par-fried potatoes and place in a non-stick skillet to crisp those spuds and cook the fish. I served the cod wrapped in crispy potatoes on a bed of a chickpea salad that were tossed with green beans, roasted red peppers, some pickled cauliflower florets, some leafy greens and Kalamata olives. You’ll have to
wait for that recipe but jot down this cod dish in the meantime. It’s sexy time!
Cod Wrapped in Crispy Potatoes (Μπακαλιαρο Τυλιγμενο με Τραγανες Πατατες)
4 boneless cod fillets (or any other white fish fillet)
coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
3 large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1/4 olive oil for frying
for the parsley-caper sauce
1 cup of fresh parsley leaves
scant tsp. of dried Greek oregano
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 Tbsp. of capers, rinsed
1 tsp. of Dijon style mustard
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 extra-virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste
- Into a food processor, add all the ingredients for the parsley-caper sauce and process until a homogeneous green sauce. Adjust flavours according to your tastes and set aside.
- Take your peeled potatoes and thinly slice them (lengthwise) using a mandoline. Add your oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. The oil should be hot (but not smoking) and then you may fry your potatoes for about 2 minutes or until soft. Reserve on a paper towel-lined plate and par-fry the remaining potatoes.
- Rinse and pat-dry your fish fillets and trim to a uniform square or rectangular shape & season lightly with sea salt and fresh ground peppers. Coat both sides of your fillets with the parsley-caper sauce and set aside.
- Place enough potato slices on your work surface (enough to just wrap each fillet) with each potato slice overlapping the other by half and then place the fish fillet on top. You may need to overlap the potato slices at the ends to lengthen them if you potatoes weren’t long enough but you’ll still succeed. Trim some potato with a knife if your potato wrapping is wider than your fillet.
- Carefully slice an offset spatula under the potato slices and lift them up and over the top of the fish fillets. Secure, squeeze the potato around your fillets and place on a plate and in your fridge for an hour to set.
- After an hour, remove your fillets from the fridge and wipe away any excess oil in the pan/skillet you used to fry the potatoes. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potato-wrapped cod fillets and cook for 4 minutes aside or until the potatoes are golden-brown (use a spatula to flip and handle the fish).
- Serve on a bed of warm chickpea salad with a wedge of lemon and serve with a Sigalas Assyrtiko/Athiri from the island of Santorini.
If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.
© 2007-2011 Peter Minakis
. All rights reserved.