Pavé de cabillaud tout simple

pan-seared cod1

Pan-seared cod with thyme

When you buy the cod, look for thick fillets. The word pavé in French means paving stones, and that’s the form you should be trying to achieve when you cut the fish into individual servings — rectangular, thick and solid-looking. As an example, the fillets I bought to make this dish were about 1 inch thick by 3 inches across by 10 inches long. I cut each of these in half crosswise to make two portions. The portions should weigh about 1/3 pound (150 g.) each — more or less, according to whether your table will be filled by hearty or light eaters. The recipe that follows is for 2 people.

2/3 pound (300 g.) fresh cod fillets
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1/2 lemon
1 branch fresh thyme (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
herbs for decorating: fresh parsley or cilantro

Cut the cod into individual pieces as described above.

Melt the olive oil and butter together in a frying pan. When it’s hot and bubbling, add the fish. Add the garlic halves, cut side down. Spritz with a squeeze of lemon juice. If you like thyme, sprinkle the fish with a few thyme leaves. Cook over a high flame for 1 minute, then turn down the heat to medium-high and cook 1 minute more. Now flip the fish, spritz again with lemon juice, and continue cooking for another minute (3 minutes cooking time in total).

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve at once on individual plates. You may drizzle the pan sauces over the fish, or not. Serve accompanied with piece a lemon and some fresh herbs. Serves 2.

What to serve alongside the pan-seared cod? It is a simple dish that marries well with almost anything. But as the sauce over the fish is rather rich, it’s best to keep the veggies simple too. Boiled potatoes, steamed green beans, wilted spinach come to mind. Or maybe a side salad of arugula with cherry tomatoes. When I last served this dish, it was with lightly steamed cabbage wedges drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Ever so delicious…

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7 Responses to Pavé de cabillaud tout simple

  1. tati says:

    This is a lovely recipe and given the heat lately, something i can do quickly with little fuss and minimum cooking time. i think some tiny boiled potatos with dill and runner beans and or spinach as you suggested. Tonight’s dinner – Thank you!
    Love your blog, i always look forward to an interesting read, some kitchen inspiration and learning a little more about French cuisine.

  2. Joan Dupont says:

    This is certainly tasty and quick, but I would appreciate an oven dish with cod since it’s tricky to be in the kitchen watching the butter while the guests are alone.
    Cod is a terrific fish and I’ll certainly try your recipe with my 8 year old granddaughter this week.

    • Meg says:

      Joan, you’re right, and I will be posting recipes for oven-baked fish in the days or weeks ahead. On the other hand, this cooks so quickly that the guests might pardon your absence. I hope your granddaughter enjoys the dish — it’s the only fish my own daughter will eat!

  3. Anne Swardson says:

    I thought this was delicious, but I’d encourage you to add something about how hot to cook it — hot, obviously, but how hot? My dish was thicker than the recipe mentioned — in hindsight I should have sliced it in half horizontally — and I felt a little unsure about how hot and long to cook it. Anyway, we loved it!


    • Meg says:

      Anne, thanks for the feedback. How hot is a tricky question. You want the oil and butter to be bubbling when you cook the fish, but you also don’t want the butter to burn. If the fish is about an inch thick, you can leave the heat up high for about a minute, then turn it down a bit to medium high. That should be enough to cook it through. As for cutting the filets in half horizontally, I’d advise against it. If your cod filets are more than 1 inch thick, they’re probably wonderful! Better to start the frying with high heat and then turn it down to medium, increasing the cooking time as necessary until the fish is done.

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