cod basquaise

Eric Ripert, if you don’t know or if you haven’t lived on the east coast or if you’ve never seen Avec Eric or Top Chef, is the executive chef of Le Bernardin a four-star New York restaurant known for exceptional service and sublime French cuisine presenting exquisite foods from the sea or seafood. He is also proprieter and executive chef of three other restaurants and the author of many prized cookbooks.

His latest, my newest, is based on his show which offers simple recipes(admittedly, chef’s version of simple)with the mission to “cook from life.” When esteemed chefs, dumb it down for us regular folks, we get an chance to bolster our cooking and we get a few lessons along the way because the esteemed chefs recognize the value of explaining why and such is the case with Cod Basquaise.

Ripert was born in France near the border of the Basque region of Spain, so naturally there are influences in the book from his early food experiences.

Basquaise is a – you guessed it – Basque sauce or, in this case, a melange of vegetables, which includes tomatoes and bell peppers.

Cod Basquaise was easy to prepare and, although I didn’t wait to eat it, the sauce can be made ahead of time and kept, he says for a day, but I say for a week (it’s a wonder my family doesn’t get a seething case of botulism). Do not waste your cooked food people!

The tang and heat of this sauce elevated the mild flavor of cod. Ripert had said, “fish is the star of the dish,” on an episode of his show. You’ve had fish from restaurants and in your own home’s perhaps, where mild fish gets buried within the other concoction – maybe for some fringe fish eaters, that’s the point. Yet, here, despite the strength of the sauce, the fish, plain old cod, rose. Suddenly, cod moved from fish and chips status to something fancy. Get this – the kids liked it even though the ingredients would suggest otherwise. Granted, I starved mine for hours beforehand, but they would have held out if it truly repulsed them. And not repulsive is the bar I use for kid-approved.

Two things about this recipe: 1.It can be simple or more complicated; we offer two versions. 2. The more you cook the vegetables, the more they go from melange to sauce and will lose some of the nutrients along the way.

The recipe called for dry red wine, which I followed, but I found that wine overpowered even the strongest pepper flavors and you have to cook it longer to cook away the alcohol. I expanded the vegetables with chicken stock and thought it was better balanced for my taste – but I’m no Eric, nor a Basque, only a basquetcase with some cod to sell. You’ll see piment d’Espelette listed in the ingredients, which is dry seasoning drawn from a hot pepper indigenous to the Basque region. It’s available at Whole Foods, but use hot paprika, cayenne pepper, or chili powder, whatever you have on had, however, start with a scant amount and taste as you go.

Cod is cheap, so are the vegetables, and the recipe is easy and novel. What are you waiting for – basquaise tonight!

[recipe]

cod basquaise

Preptime: 15 min Serves 4

Cooktime: 25 min, not all active

Eric Ripert Version (with our slight modifications)

2 T olive oil

1/4 c diced onions

1 t minced garlic

1/4 c diced serrano ham (I used my own baked ham)

1/2 c diced red bell pepper

1/2 c diced yellow bell pepper

1 c diced seeded and peeled tomato*

1 t fresh thyme leaves

1/2 c chicken or fish stock (Eric used 1/2 c dry red wine, I didn’t like the taste)

1 T chopped fresh Italian parsley

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

piment d’Espelette* (or hot paprika, cayenne, or chili powder)

4 – 6oz cod filets

2 T canola oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

Heat the olive oil in heavy pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until tender – 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 min longer. Add the ham, peppers and cook 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the tomatoes and thyme and simmer until thickened – 7 minutes. Add the stock (wine) and cook – 7 more minutes. Stir in parsley and season with s&p and piment d’blah blah or chili powder to taste.

Cod: Heat a griddle on medium high then add canola oil. Season the cod on both sides with s & p. Add the cod to the pan with the garlic. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the fish is golden brown on the bottom – 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the fish over and finish cooking.

*Peeling and seed tomatoes takes time, but the result is pure rich tomato. Tip: to peel a tomato with ease, make a cross hatch cut at the bottom of the tomato and plunge it into boiling water for 15 seconds. The skin should peel off with the tip of a knife.

Serve: spoon the warm Basquaise sauce onto a plate, place a cod filet on top.

Cruchtime Version (faster and with fewer ingredients)

2 T olive oil

1/4 c diced onions

1 t minced garlic

1/4 c diced ham (optional)

1/2 c diced red bell pepper

1/2 c diced yellow bell pepper

1 c diced tomato

1/2 c chicken stock

1 t dried thyme leaves

1/2 t dried parsley

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

dash of cayenne or other hot pepper powder (to your liking please)

4 – 6oz cod filets

2 T canola oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

Heat the olive oil in heavy pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until tender – 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ham, peppers and cook 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the tomatoes, stock, and thyme and simmer until thickened – 5-10 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste.

Cod: Heat a griddle on medium high then add canola oil. Season the cod on both sides with s & p. Add the cod to the pan with the garlic. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the fish is golden brown on the bottom – 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the fish over and finish cooking.

Serve: spoon the warm Basquaise sauce onto a plate, place a cod filet on top.

recipe adapated from Avec Eric by Eric Ripert by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

4 Comments

  1. tammy says Jan 11th 2011 6:03 pm

    Sherri,
    Haven’t even started on the dishes, I was so excited to tell you how much we enjoyed this dish tonight! I used 1/4 c of wine instead of 1/2 c because all of my recipes that call for wine seem to say 1/4 c. Maybe that is the answer to the flavor issue. Also, because there was so much juice in the pan when I cooked the fish, I drained that into the sauce as well. Scott said it’s the best fish he’s had all year (smart ass). We did have cod last week that paled in comparison. Anyway, thanks. It was great.

    • Sherri says Jan 11th 2011 6:45 pm

      Tammy, I’m so happy to hear this and think your idea on wine is a good one. I swear the recipes from these very fussy chefs are so good because they insist on perfection. Love your and Scott’s dedication to fish!

  2. tammy says May 26th 2013 6:10 pm

    We made this tonight with what we had on hand. Had to use canned tomatoes and garlic powder, Herb ‘de Provence instead of fresh thyme. It was a delicious meal. Thanks again Sherri for your inspiration!

  3. Sherri says May 29th 2013 8:59 pm

    Love the improvisation. I might have to play with herb de provence – one pinch is a meal changer. thanks for sharing

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