08 – Honey Mustard Dill Crusted Cod

split fish
Playing with my food before devouring it. This particular picture is from Split, Croatia, and is the first time I was served an entire fish, head and all.

This is probably the simplest recipe that I’ve tried over the past six months or so, and yet in some ways it was my most challenging. For some reason, I have a huge aversion to cooking fish, which is strange considering my love of seafood. One of my favourite things to do while living in Halifax was getting fish and chips along the boardwalk, and I tend to order seafood linguine nearly every chance I get. When my wife and I did a weekend trip out to Prince Edward Island and experienced a true “Lobster Supper” there, I nearly made myself sick off of unlimited clam chowder, unlimited mussels, and a lobster so big that the only true limit placed on it was due to my poor, over-extended belly. So yeah…big seafood fan here.

Despite my love of seafood, I hate cooking with fish. I don’t entirely know why I’ve avoid fish to such a great extent, but I have. I think it’s because I haven’t wanted to look stupid. It’s such a natural tendency for humans to protect themselves against criticism and judgement, even if it means avoiding experiences in life we’re hoping to have. I very often would love to enjoy a nicely baked glazed salmon, but I’m afraid of ruining it, or – in an attempt to avoid ruining it – asking really stupid questions of those more experienced than I am.

Actually, I think I’ve just avoided fish because I don’t know what to do with both the skin and bones. I know this might seem silly, but I don’t want to commit a fish faux pas  (or a faux pas des poisons, if we’re really committing to the French here). I haven’t wanted to make what I’ve thought is a wonderful meal, only to have somebody say “Why did you leave the skin on? I mean, seriously, who leaves skin on codfish?”, or…well, nevermind.

My beautiful wife just returned home from work in the middle of me making this post, and has convinced me that there’s no sense trying to explain why I’m afraid to make fish – it’s nonsensical, in her opinion. So…no more explaining, but know that for some reason, I’m intimidated by cooking fish.

cooking 3 001
Somehow this intimidates me much more than homemade perogies or sour cherry pie.

Thankfully, the fish turned out well. The topping, however…not so much. It wasn’t crusted at all, and Mateja and I had different reasons for disliking the honey-mustard layer: I thought it tasted too strongly of honey, and she thought…that it tasted too strongly of mustard. I don’t know if I could find a proper balance seeing as we both disagreed on the issue, but here’s the basis for the recipe anyways:

  • Cod
  • Equal parts honey and mustard
  • roughly chopped dill
  • vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper (for seasoning, before application of the honey/mustard/dill layer)

The recipe is from Michael Smith, but I couldn’t find a version of it online. I’m posting only a simplified version here because I’m a stickler for rules (I need to find out what’s allowed via copyright laws), and because I didn’t follow it too closely anyways. I chose a grainy Dijon mustard and a local honey. When mixing them in the prescribed 1-1 ratio didn’t create the coating I was looking for, I went to town on the coating with cheap Western Family Dijon.

Whatever I did, it didn’t work entirely. As mentioned, despite the honey mustard topping being less than ideal, the fish was cooked very nicely. I did this by lightly oiling my Le Creuset braiser and placing it in the oven at 400°F for approximately 15 minutes.

cooking 3 007

In addition to the fish, I made some skin-on mashed potatoes with bacon, as well as that garlic/chilli pepper infusion I’ve mentioned before (this time with jalapeno). As you can see from the final product, the bacon has claimed the mash potatoes as it’s territory.

Anyways, not highly recommended, but still a decently substantial and satisfying meal. Also, I think the final product at least looked quite appealing.

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