Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #16: Tasty Crusted Cod
This is our 16th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We selected “Tasty Crusted Cod, My Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce, and Warm Garden Salad” because it seemed vaguely wintery and we had the episode recorded. We also decided to switch up the format of our experiment a bit. Rather than both of us cooking, we decided to play it like a rally car team. Snookums was the cook/driver, while I was the one shouting out instructions (and taking photos). We figured that was the most fair way to test the “30 minute” claim, and it avoided the usual chaos of both of us trying to read from the same recipe. To our surprise, this system worked out amazingly well!
Substitutions: Our fish was “Blue-Eyed Cod,” which is an Australian fish that we figured was close enough to what Jamie used. (North Atlantic cod and haddock aren’t easy to come by Down Under.) Our pancetta was round and had less fat than Jamie’s, which was more like a very thin bacon. The only other substitution was using a mix of rocket and spinach for the salad (rather than rocket and watercress). Everything else was as-written.
Quick verdict: This was FANTASTIC! Neither of us was expecting much, given that Jamie bills it as a grown-up version of fish fingers and mash. But the fish was cooked perfectly, and the herb paste and breadcrumbs were a welcome addition. The tartare sauce was a great accompaniment too. The mashy peas were rustic and comforting (and the recipe made HEAPS). I’d feared the simple salad would be bland, but the warm dressing was a knock-out. We both rated this meal a 10 out of 10. And what’s more: the Snook finished it off in 31:58! RIPPER. Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. We also needed the food processor for this one. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven grill was turned on full blast and the kettle was boiled. We had a big roasting tray for the fish, a saucepan for the mash, and a frying pan for the pancetta.
First up are the ingredients for the mash: potatoes, broccoli, frozen peas, butter, and mint sauce. (Our mint sauce was homemade by the Snook.)
Now the bits for the tartare sauce: cornichons, capers, parsley, anchovy fillets, mayonnaise, lemon, and sweet paprika.
Here are the fish ingredients: fennel seeds, cod fillets (skin on and pin-boned), white crusty bread, garlic, anchovy fillets, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, red chilli, Parmesan cheese, lemon, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and thyme.
Lastly, the bits for the salad: pancetta, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salad greens (rocket and spinach).
Pots and pans, ready go to! The roasting tray is for the fish. The saucepan is for the mash, and the frying pan is for the pancetta.
Food processor with chopping blade attached. You use this for three separate elements of the meal, so a good food processor is essential for this one!
And we’re off! I read out recipe instructions to the Snook so he could focus on cooking. He started by chopping up the potatoes for the mash. (We opted to leave the skin on.)
Now he’s taking the florets off the broccoli. The florets get set aside while the chopped potatoes and broccoli stem go into the saucepan with boiling water.
Now for the fish. He starts by dressing the roasting tray with fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
The fish fillets then get rubbed and tossed in this mixture. (Since the recipe serves 6-8, we decided to only do half the amount of fish. We had two big fillets totaling 600g, but the pin bones were so difficult to remove that the Snook resorted to cutting them in half. It actually worked out better having four fillets anyway.)
The fish now goes into the oven for 5 minutes while you get on with the topping.
Here the Snook chops up bread…
…before whizzing it in the food processor with garlic and anchovy oil.
The breadcrumb topping is ready to go.
Now for the herb paste. He fills the food processor with anchovy fillets, garlic, basil, chilli, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar.
This too gets whizzed up.
Ding! Time for the fish to come out and for the toppings to go on. First he covers each piece with the paste…
…and then he covers them with the breadcrumb mixture.
Oiled bits of rosemary and thyme go on top, then the fish goes back into the oven for ten minutes.
The next step for the mash is to add the frozen peas and broccoli florets to the boiling water.
Time to get going on the salad! The pancetta goes into the frying pan. (Note: We think this would have been nicer with fatty bacon-style pancetta. We had to add some olive oil to ours to get it crispy.)
It’s tartare sauce time! Again the food processor bowl is rinsed and put to use. The Snook fills it with cornichons, capers, parsley, anchovies, anchovy oil, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. (As usual, we toned down the amount of lemon juice Jamie uses. He tends to go nuts with it.)
The whizzed-up tartare sauce paste.
The Snook mixes up this paste with mayonnaise, adding more lemon juice to taste.
After a sprinkle of paprika and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the tartare sauce is finished!
This is where we realised our pancetta wasn’t crisping fast enough, so the Snook cranked the heat and added some oil.
That did the trick! Once it’s crispy you add in crushed garlic and balsamic vinegar. (Note: On the episode, Jamie added like one tablespoon of vinegar. The recipe has you add FIVE. We went with the five and just let it reduce a bit more.)
Meanwhile, the veg have finished cooking. The Snook has drained the veg and put them back into the pan to steam dry.
Time to mash! He adds butter, olive oil, mint sauce, salt, and pepper and gives everything a rough mash.
The finished mash!
The pancetta gets broken up in the warm dressing and the whole lot is poured on the salad leaves and tossed. Here’s the finished salad.
I made him pose for a photo with his mess. He says: “Show me a man who’s not makin’ a mess, and I’ll show you a man who’s not makin’ anything.”
Lastly, the fish comes out of the oven. The breadcrumbs are gorgeous and look crunchy.
The finished meal of Tasty Crusted Cod, My Mashy Peas, Warm Garden Salad, and Tartare Sauce. We served it with a chilled white wine as recommended.
The Snook had been worried that the thicker pieces of fish wouldn’t be cooked through, but as you can see here it was beautiful. The flesh came away in firm white chunks.
Tasting notes: As a recovering pescaphobe, the fish ones always make me a little anxious. These fillets smelled very fishy when they were raw, and the topping has a fair bit of anchovy in it. Fortunately the finished dish was EXCELLENT and I happily ate every bit of it. (Well, except for the skin. I’m working up to that.) The Snook had been worried that the herb paste would be too strong and overpowering, but it wasn’t at all. The breadcrumbs provided some really nice crunch too. The tartare sauce was heavy on the parsley and light on the pickle, but we both enjoyed it with the fish. The mashy peas were comfort food without being too boring. (The little zing of mint sauce in there was very nice!) The salad was the big surprise for me. It only had like five ingredients, but the combination of the warm balsamic, pancetta, and garlic was a total winner. The whole meal was well-balanced and the flavours were complementary. Neither of us could think of a single flaw or thing we’d change for next time. This one’s a definite 10/10! It doesn’t sound fancy, but the end result is something you could easily serve at a dinner party.
Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!