Tricks of the Trade Part 3: Overcoming Fear of Fish

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, July 21, 2005

Chef Andy McCoy’s Sautéed Cod Cajun Style
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cod fillets, about  3 ounces each
Any commercial Cajun seasoning mix, or just use salt and pepper
Important tools:
medium sauté pan that’s got some weight to it
long-handled turning spatula (no tongs! they break delicate fish)
Favorite Cajun spice mix
1. Garnish two dinner plates with a lettuce leaf, lemon wedge, a slice or two of avocado and tartar sauce. Have the plates convenient to the stove.
2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy sauté pan over the highest heat.
3. Meanwhile, season the cod fillets to suit your tolerance for spiciness! Just enough to taste great, but not so much that it overpowers the fish. The fish will not be “blackened” but will turn a deep crusty red.
3. When the oil is so hot that a wisp of smoke curls upward, carefully lower each fillet into the pan.* Wait a moment, then shake the pan gently to make sure nothing’s sticking. With the pan still, observe the fish cooking until its natural layers begin to separate and become distinct – flaking -- about 50 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Carefully slide the spatula under each fillet and turn over. Cook the second side, lifting to peek and to check on the flaking. Don’t let the fish fall apart – it will over cook. Another minute or less, and the cod should be done.
5. Use the spatula to lift the fillets out of the skillet onto a lettuce leaf. May drizzle with some of the pan juices, or not. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
* To prevent getting burned as you lower fish into very hot oil, Chef McCoy wants you to tilt the pan away from you so the oil puddles on the side of the pan farthest from you.

A downloadable version of this recipe is available in the Related Resources section.