Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lemon Caper Cod

-with roasted broccoli and potatoes, parmesan cheese, and lemon vinaigrette

Time for that fish I was yammering about! I told you guys I finally got it right 😃

Fish is not something that's usually hard for me. Maybe it's because I usually cook it on the grill? Or deep fry it? I don't know what happened before that I usually never have it sticking to that pan, but for this dish, the fish kept sticking. I do have a tendency towards beginner's luck which could explain my past successes. And when you have to tend to be fortunate the first time, you don't learn the chemistry. So, for anyone having problems with sticky fish, here's my tips-

1. The pan! The pan that you use to sear fish must be the right pan. A well-seasoned cast iron pan works best, but mine is rather new. I'm hesitant to use it for fish until it's a bit older. I was using my old sauté pan that's close to 11 years old. The problem with that pan is that it's slightly warped. I know, I know, bad food blogger using a warped pan. What can I say? A new sauté pan is on my bucket list. The problem with using a warped pan is that it's not completely in contact with the heat source and this is very, very bad for fish. I think this is one of the biggest reasons my fish was sticking. In the end, I went with my old-school aluminum pan because it's totally flat, ensuring the correct contact with the heat source. When the fish sears perfectly, it will automatically lift off the pan when it's ready. If it sticks, it's not ready. And if done right, searing only takes 2-3 minutes on each side.

Warped pan, sticky fish 😫
2. The oil! Make sure to use oil with a high smoke point because the pan needs to be screaming hot before you put the fish on. Olive oil will not suffice here and I'm thinking may have been part of my problem. I ended up searing with canola oil for the best results, but feel free to substitute that for something healthier such as coconut or avocado oil. 

3. Room temperature fish! Cod filets are so thin, I thought that maybe if they were still a little cold when I put them in the pan that it would keep them from overcooking. Wrong! It was Stickage City with cold filets. Take your fish out of the fridge 30-35 minutes before cooking. Also, make sure to dry your fish with a paper towel before you put it in the pan. A dry surface sears better and faster than a wet one. 

Stay true to these tips and you will stay the course with that fish! 🐟

Of course, if your fish does stick, sometimes it's not the end of the world. This was my fish after my second attempt. It completely fell apart. While the presentation wasn't what I was aiming for, the fish still tasted good. I simply arranged it on a plate and served it that way. While I threw a bit of a temper tantrum, dinner still made its way to the table.

It's not always perfect, right guys? 😉

The full recipe that I used for the fish includes roasted broccoli and potatoes. Don't mind if I do! The cod pairs perfectly with the crisp-tender veggies. 

The recipe also calls for a light vinaigrette that you drizzle over the entire dish before serving. You could skip this part of the recipe, but I felt the light lemony-ness of the sauce added perfect balance and zing to the fish and the veggies. 

Here's another tip I learned from making this dish 4 times- the broccoli roasts waaaaay faster than the potatoes. I found it best to roast the potatoes for 15 minutes by themselves before adding the broccoli to the pan. This ensured brown, crispy potatoes without blackened broccoli. 

One last tip- those little pickled drops of flavor that we call capers? Take it easy on them. Once you've plated your entire dish, drop 4 or 5 on the whole plate. They have a strong flavor and you don't need a lot of them to achieve your desired affect. Too many would ruin the dish for me. 

Hopefully these tips help you on your quest for perfectly seared fish. I mean, it's good when it's not perfectly seared but when it is- it's delightful. The crispness of the outer layer and the flavor that comes with it, it's the best. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again 😁

Happy Wednesday friends!

Recipe adapted from: EatingWell


1 lb baby potatoes, halved
12 ounces broccoli florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper

1 tbsp canola oil
1 lb cod filets, room temp
salt, pepper

2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced

garnish- 1 tbsp capers, shredded parmesan cheese, freshly chopped parsley


1. Preheat oven to 450º. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine broccoli and potatoes in a large mixing bowl with olive oil and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat veggies.  Spread potatoes in a single layer on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove tray from oven, and add broccoli to pan. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until veggies are well-browned. Remove from oven, and set aside.
2. In a large pan, heat canola oil over high heat. When oil is hot, turn heat down to medium-high. Pat cod filets try with a paper towel and then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place filets in pan and sear each side 2-3 minutes. Filets are done when fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from heat, and set aside.
3. Prepare the vinaigrette- in a small mason jar, combine lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and garlic. Place lid on jar and shake vigorously. 
4. On a plate, spoon potatoes and broccoli. Place a cod filet on top. Sprinkle a couple of capers on plate, garnish with parmesan cheese and a dusting of fresh parsley. Drizzle a little bit of vinaigrette on  the entire dish. Serve immediately!

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  1. Thank you!! I never would have thought to let fish come to room temperature. Great tips, my friend :)



    1. I never thought I'd have so many problems with fish! I guess that's when you know it's time for a new pan! It worked out well for sharing tips though! 😁

  2. Great tips and the finished dish looks amazing! Welcome back :-)

    1. Thank you! I did work hard to get that finished dish. Of course, the hubby came home on Friday and asked if I cooked fish in the house while he was gone. For the love! 😂

  3. Great tips Jessica and thank you for the recipe! I'm glad to see you back!

    1. Thanks Debbie! It feels good to be back 😁

      I hope you had a great weekend!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your tips! I struggle so much with fish, but I honestly feel inspired to try again after reading your post!

    1. I really struggled with this dish, but in the end it was worth it. I definitely feel better about searing filets in the future 😁


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