Potted Atlantic Cod Fish Recipes
Jellied eels and potted shrimp are well known and established delicacies in certain parts of the world. It is fair to say, however, that Atlantic cod or similar fish is not so often considered as being suited to being served in such a fashion. This was therefore very much an experiment with a freshly caught codling (small/young cod) after a very successful day's sea fishing and fortunately it produced more than satisfactory results. The precise combinations of ingredients included in the pots with the cod are almost infinitely variable so it is possible to have a great deal of fun experimenting with different ideas.
How to Poach a Cod for Potting and Jellying
The codling used in this recipe was about two to two and a half pounds in weight and provided the perfect quantity of meat for seven ramekins of jellied cod. The fish was gutted at sea immediately after it was caught to keep it as fresh as possible but importantly was otherwise left whole.
A Chinese style cleaver is ideal for removing the head and tail from the codling but you can use a robust, very sharp knife if you don't have a cleaver available.
- Starting just behind the pectoral fins (side fins just behind the head), cut the head from the cod. Set aside as you will require it later.
- Cut the tail from the cod and discard.
- Use kitchen scissors to cut the dorsal and anal fins from the cod (back/top and belly/bottom fins) and also discard.
- Lay the fish in a large stock or soup pot and season with half a teaspoon of black peppercorns, a teaspoon of sea salt and two bay leaves.
- Pour enough cold water in to the pot to ensure the cod is comfortably covered. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water just begins to simmer. Reduce the heat and maintain as low a simmer as possible for four or five minutes only.
- After four or five minutes, use a large slotted spoon to lift the cod from the poaching water to a plate. Cover and leave to cool enough that it can be comfortably handled.
- Turn the heat off under the pot and cover.
- When the cod is cool enough, carefully peel off the skin and discard.
- The cod flesh should easily peel from the bone in large flakes. At this stage, you can feel for bones and try to remove them but it's not too important as you can make a final check when potting the flesh.
- When you have removed all the flesh from one side of the cod, you should be able to lift out the bone in one piece and gain access to the other side of the fish. Set the bone aside for use in making the stock.
- When you have the flesh assembled in a small bowl, cover and set aside.
How to Make Cod Fish Stock
- Put the cleaned cod spinal bone and the cod head in to the reserved poaching water.
- Add half a red bell pepper (seeded and roughly chopped), one small onion (peeled and quartered) and one medium carrot (washed, topped and roughly chopped).
- Put the pot on a high heat until the water starts to simmer. Reduce the heat, cover and leave to simmer gently for forty-five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for half an hour to cool slightly.
- Remove the cod head and bone and the vegetable pieces with a slotted spoon and discard.
- Place a fine sieve over a large bowl and strain the stock.
Combining Cod and Accompaniments for Jellying
The set of seven ramekins in a serving platter used in this recipe is very unusual in the sense that ramekin sets normally consist of just four or maybe six units. Unfortunately, I've had it so long, I can't actually remember where I purchased it. If you don't have a set of similar ramekins, however, they are widely available to buy, usually cheapest of all online on sites.
The first step is to measure out the quantity of cod required for each ramekin. Assemble your ramekins and fetch the bowl of cod flakes you removed earlier from the bone.
The cod flesh will be in bigger flakes than is ideal for this recipe. While it is important not to break it up too much, you will have to make the flakes slightly smaller to fit sufficient cod in to the ramekins. Break the flakes very gently with your fingers and it is at this stage you should be feeling for and removing any remaining bones. This job will take a few minutes but is worth doing properly. You want to approximately half fill each ramekin with cod flakes, ensuring they are not too tightly packed.
One of the ramekins was prepared with only the jelly added to the cod. This was simply because I wanted to try the combination in its most basic form. The other six ramekins were made in to three very different flavour combinations, two ramekins for each combination.
Fajitas Spiced Cod and Peppers
- Take two of the cod ramekins and empty them in to a small bowl.
- Seed and finely dice quarter a red bell pepper and a small green chilli pepper.
- Add the diced peppers to the bowl with the cod, along with a teaspoon of fajitas spice.
- Very carefully, stir fold the ingredients to evenly combine.
- Divide the mix between the two ramekins. Each ramekin should be three-quarters to four-fifths full.
Cod with Smoked Salmon and Dill
The codling which forms the basis of these recipes was caught in the North Sea from a charter boat out of Arbroath, on the East Coast of Scotland. It seemed fitting therefore that one of the recipes for jellied cod should be made to be particularly Scottish.
- Wash and dry your bowl before adding the contents of another two cod ramekins.
- Take 2 ounces of smoked salmon offcuts (widely available in vacuum packs in many supermarkets and much cheaper than conventional smoked salmon) and finely chop. You should have around a generous tablespoon of diced smoked salmon.
- Add the salmon to the cod along with 1/2 teaspoon dried dill and a little white pepper. Stir fold to combine.
- Divide the mix between the two ramekins, again to almost but not quite fill.
Cod with Tomato and Basil
- Wash and dry the bowl again before adding the contents of the final two ramekins of cod.
- Seed and finely dice a small to medium tomato.
- Stir fold the tomato in to the cod along with 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, a little salt and some black pepper.
- Divide again between the two ramekins to almost fill.
The collective cod combinations are now ready to be jellied.
How to Make the Jelly for the Cod
- Leaf gelatine is used to set the jelly for the cod. It is important to read the instructions on the pack to see how much should be used but also to use only half the prescribed amount for one pint of liquid. This is simply because you only want a very light set to the jelly and not a full set.
- The instructions on this pack meant I had to use two gelatine leaves, which required to be soaked in cold water for three or four minutes before use.
- While the gelatine is soaking, measure out a pint of your prepared fish stock. The rest can be chilled/frozen for future use.
- Gently heat the stock in a pot until it just starts to bubble around the edges and no more. Don't let it boil. Turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool part of your stove/hob.
- Lift the gelatine leaves from the water and squeeze out excess liquid. Add to the heated stock and stir with a wooden spoon until fully dissolved.
- The stock should be allowed to cool slightly before it is added to the potted cod or it will start to further cook the cod. On the other hand, it should not be allowed to cool sufficiently that the gelatine begins to set. Leave it for about fifteen minutes and you should have that happy medium.
- Pour the stock in to a large glass jug and very carefully fill each of the ramekins up to the top. All solids in the ramekins should be completely covered.
- Cover the ramekins and leave to cool before carefully lifting to the fridge and chilling overnight to completely set.
The Peoples' Verdict!
Which of these jellied cod combinations is your favourite?
Jellied Cod Serving Suggestions
Just as the ingredients which can be jellied with the cod are almost infinitely variable, the number of ways in which each type of jellied cod can be served are equally numerous. The ideas below are therefore but suggestions.
Note that it's a good idea to remove the jellied cod from the fridge about twenty minutes before service to let it come up to room temperature.
Jellied Cod with Toast
The plain jellied cod, I wanted to taste as true as possible, so I simply made some toast, lightly buttered it and served it alongside. I spooned a little bit of the jellied cod on to the toast at a time to eat, with the only addition being a little bit of white pepper. It was delicious!
Fajitas Spiced Jellied Cod and Cheese Tortilla Wraps
This option for jellied cod could of course be made to include guacamole, soured cream and many other options in the tortilla wraps but the simple cheese accompaniment worked very well.
- Grate/shred a couple of ounces of cheddar or similar cheese, enough to fill a spare ramekin.
- These are mini tortilla wraps but normal size would work equally well. Bring a dry frying pan up to a high heat and heat the wraps on the high heat for about fifteen seconds each side.
- Serve three wraps per person and spoon some jellied cod on to the centre of each wrap, top with cheese and roll to eat.
Fajitas Spiced Jelly Cod with Spicy Tortilla Chips
How easy is this idea? It doesn't, however, make it any less delicious. Simply serve the ramekin of fajitas spiced jellied cod and peppers with a couple of handfuls of hot and spicy tortillas chips and use the chips to dip in to and eat the jellied cod.
Tomato and Basil Jellied Cod with Bruschetta
The tomato and basil jellied cod is very much a Mediterranean themed serving idea so Italian bruschetta makes a perfect accompaniment.
- Take a ciabatta bread roll and cut it in half horizontally. Toast until golden on both sides under your grill/broiler.
- Peel and lightly crush a garlic clove. Rub it over the cut sides of the roll.
- Drizzle the roll with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the roll halves in half and serve arranged around a pot of tomato and basil jellied cod.
Tomato and Basil Jellied Cod with Paprika Egg and Potatoes
The tomato and basil jellied cod could be Spanish every much as it could be Italian. This idea makes for a slightly more substantial meal.
- Take around six baby new potatoes, wash them and cut them in half but don't peel.
- Put the potato halves in a pot with a teaspoon of paprika and a good shake of sea salt.
- Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes, bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for twenty minutes.
- Put an egg (removed from fridge half hour in advance to reach room temperature) in to a pot of cold water. Bring to a simmer for seven or eight minutes.
- Drain the potatoes through a colander at your sink. Return to the pot and let them steam for a few minutes.
- Take the pot with the egg to your sink and run cold water in to it until the egg is cool enough to handle.
- Crack the eggshell on a hard surface and peel. Resubmerge in cold water to cool quickly. This stops the blue/grey discolouration around the yolk from forming.
- Pour about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in to the potatoes and gently swirl to coat without breaking the potatoes.
- Cut the egg in half lengthways and season cut sides with paprika.
- Plate the tomato and basil jellied cod and arrange the potatoes and egg halves on the plate as shown. Lightly scatter the potatoes with a little more paprika as a garnish.
Jellied Cod, Smoked Salmon and Dill with Scottish Oatcakes
Oatcakes are a little bit hard to explain to anyone who has never tasted them but they are hugely popular in Scotland and even in other parts of the UK. They are like crackers/biscuits/cookies made principally from oats and are delicious with an incredible variety of accompaniments. This particular brand is from the Orkney Islands in the very far north of Scotland and is probably my favourite of all the many varieties I have tasted. They are called Stockan's and are available in a few different varieties.
Simply plate the jellied cod and smoked salmon with a few oatcakes and use a teaspoon to tuck in.
Jellied Cod, Smoked Salmon and Dill with Scottish Tattie Scones
Potato or "tattie" scones are fairly simple to make at home from cooled mashed potatoes, flour and salt. In this instance, however, they were supermarket bought.
In order to revitalise the scones, they were heated for about twenty seconds each side in a very hot, dry frying pan. This not only heats them through but makes them more pliable and easier to consume with the jellied cod and smoked salmon.
© 2015 Gordon Hamilton