Cod is good — especially with saffron
FoodGreat recipe for a fish course or a main dish

Cod is good — especially with saffron

Potatoes can be added to complete the meal

Cod in saffron tomato broth (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Cod in saffron tomato broth (Photo by Jessica Grann)

This recipe for cod poached in a velvety tomato and saffron broth is heaven for my senses. It has the beautiful flavors of bouillabaisse-saffron, tomatoes, white wine and garlic — but it’s kosher!

The fish is poached in the tomato broth and makes a beautiful fish course or main meal. Saffron is one of my favorite spices. It has a bit of an umami flavor, although it is hard to describe the taste of saffron to one who has not tried it. It’s floral but earthy, and it elevates any food it’s added to. There is definitely an “unknown” flavor and textural change to tomato broth when saffron is added, and it’s absolutely divine.

The fish looks beautiful prepared this way, but my favorite part of eating it is using a fresh, crunchy baguette to sop up the leftover sauce on my plate.

I like to add thinly sliced potatoes to the pot when making this as a main meal, but I suggest trying it first without the potatoes to see how you like it.

Cod in saffron tomato broth
Serves 4 as a fish course or 2 as the main dish. Can be doubled for a crowd.

1 pound fresh cod fillet, either fresh or frozen
½ of a sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pareve chicken-flavored bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon of Osem consommé
1 cup boiled water
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 pinch of saffron, about ½ teaspoon loosely measured, not packed
2 teaspoons red pepper: choose either Aleppo pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or a Spanish paprika
1 14-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 smaller bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced in ¼ inch rounds

Rinse the (fully thawed) cod under cool water and pat it dry with paper towels.

If using one larger piece of cod, cut it into 4 squarish pieces and sprinkle it with kosher salt to taste.

Boil a cup of water.

Place one pareve chicken-flavored bouillon cube or one tablespoon of Osem consommé into a bowl and pour the boiling water over the top. Stir and let the bouillon dissolve into the water. Set aside.
Peel and thinly slice half of an onion.

Over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a wide, low pot that has a well-fitting lid.

When warm, add the onions, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until soft but not browned. If the onions seem to be browning or burning, turn down the heat.

Stir in a nice pinch of saffron, your choice of red pepper and the thinly sliced garlic to the onions. The pepper adds a gentle warmth to the dish. Choose your favorite pepper. Mine is Aleppo.

Stir constantly for 1 minute until fragrant, but avoid burning the garlic.

Pour dry white wine over the mixture. Allow it to come to a gentle boil for 3-4 minutes. The wine will deglaze the pan; cooking it down for a few minutes will allow the alcohol to dissipate.

Add the can of tomatoes, bouillon mixture and bay leaf.

Allow it to simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Gently add the cod pieces to the broth. Use a spoon to make a well for each piece of fish and scoop a little broth over each piece.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes at a minimum temperature of 165 F.

Turn off the heat and allow the fish to rest covered for 15 minutes before tasting it, then add salt and pepper to taste.

This dish can be made ahead of time and heated in the oven at 300 F, but be careful not to overcook/overheat the fish for the best result.

The flavors of this dish become more complex if it is made a few hours before serving, and it holds up well overnight.

To make this as a main dish with potatoes, add the potatoes into the pot after the first step, when the onions have been cooking for 10 minutes. Stir the potatoes and onions for 5 minutes, just to get the potatoes nicely coated with olive oil, then remove the potatoes to another bowl. Add them back into the pot when you add the tomatoes to the wine and saffron broth.

Cook the potatoes uncovered in the broth for about 25 minutes, until fork-tender, then add the fish into the pot to cook per the instructions above.

If the liquid looks dry, you can add a little water, starting in half-cup increments. The heat should be high enough to make a bubbling simmer, but not so high that it reduces all of the broth.

This makes a great one-pot dish and a light but filling meal. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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