It’s funny how sometimes the memory of a dish will follow you around for months, even years. It was sometime last spring that I had a dish like that, at Range here in San Francisco. The memorable dish was remarkably simple, though I didn’t know that at the time: Cod a la Nage. A la nage has something to with swimming in French, and refers to the cooking technique, wherein you poach the fish in a lovely broth of wine, aromatics and butter. I wasn’t too keen, however, on the ridiculous quantity of butter traditionally called for, and so I opted to boost the flavor of the broth with coconut milk. Coupled with the tangy, lemony flavors of sorrel, the delicate qualities of beech mushrooms and the anisette notes of tarragon, it’s a perfect, light dish for spring.
This Poached Cod in Coconut Milk Recipe is part of the April Seasonal Food Guide (but can be eaten long after April’s passed!)
2 8-ounce cod fillets (can substitute any firm white fish or salmon)
12 ounces dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced shallot
8 ounces coconut milk
8 ounces water
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced + more for garnish
1 tablespoon flatleaf parsley, minced
2 ounces brown beech mushrooms (can substitute any light, delicately-flavored mushroom)
handful fresh sorrel (can substitute other spring greens)
salt + pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
In a large skillet, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute, stirring, for about 2-3 minutes to soften. Salt and pepper both sides of the cod fillets and place in pan. Add the wine and water and poach cod until cooked, about 7 minutes. Using a large spatula, remove cod from broth and place in wide, shallow soup bowls. Place bowls with cod in oven to keep warm.
Raise the heat on broth and bring to a boil to reduce by about one cup. Reduce heat to medium low and add coconut milk, remaining butter, tarragon and parsley, and stir. Add mushrooms and cook for about five minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove bowls from oven. Divide fresh sorrel between the bowls. Ladle broth over the fish and sorrel. Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves. Serve immediately.