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 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…