Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a starter or serves 4 as a main course
Crisp, crunchy and soft simply describes the textures of this dish. Serving some of the components of this dish warm and some cold gives it an interesting extra dimension. Cod is a flaky and soft, but fairly neutral-flavoured, fish that goes very well with vegetables that have a fairly strong identity, such as Jerusalem artichokes. This dish makes a perfect starter, but it can also be served as a main course, so is ideal for a special dinner party, and it can all be prepared a day in advance.
I also lightly cure the cod – the reason for this is that cod is very flaky and breaks up easily when cooked, especially if the fish is super fresh, so the cure firms up the flesh and holds it together during cooking. The cure of salt and sugar only stays on the fish for 10 minutes, so you can also do this a day in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for the following day.
Ingredients & Method
For the pickled Jerusalem artichokes
- 2 large Jerusalem artichokes
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- juice of 1 lemon
- a pinch of caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the Jerusalem artichoke crisps
- sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 2 large Jerusalem artichokes
For the Jerusalem artichoke purée
- 200g Jerusalem artichokes
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 50ml white wine
- 200ml cold water
- 50ml double cream
For the lightly cured cod
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon table salt 6 x 55–60g even-sized pieces of skinless, boneless cod (or for a main course, use 4 x 100–120g pieces)
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- fresh pea shoots or watercress fresh mustard cress
- 1 green-skinned eating apple (preferably Granny Smith)
Make the pickled Jerusalem artichokes. Peel the artichokes and slice them as thinly as possible (preferably using a mandolin) into a bowl. Immediately mix the sliced artichokes with the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Cover and leave the mixture to macerate for at least 1 hour in the fridge. This can be done a day in advance and just kept in a covered container in the fridge overnight. Drain the artichokes before serving, reserving the artichokes and pickling liquor separately.
Make the Jerusalem artichoke crisps. Heat the sunflower oil in an electric deep-fat fryer or in a deep frying pan to a temperature of 160°C (or until a small piece of bread browns within 20 seconds in the hot oil). Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and slice them as thinly as possible (preferably using a mandolin). Deep-fry the artichoke slices in the hot oil (do this in batches) for 2–3 minutes or until they are golden brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the crisps on kitchen paper, then immediately season them with salt. Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container. These can also be made a day in advance.
Make the Jerusalem artichoke purée – this can also be done a day in advance. Peel and slice the artichokes. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the sliced artichokes and a little salt, then cover and sweat over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the artichokes are tender. The artichokes will be colourless, but as soon as they start to take on colour, add the wine, cover and cook until the wine becomes thick and syrupy.
Add the water, reduce the heat to very low, then cover and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the artichokes are completely soft. Remove the lid, increase the heat and boil rapidly until nearly all the water has evaporated. Add the cream and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Purée the mixture in a blender until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next, make the lightly cured cod. This can also be done a day in advance. Mix the sugar and salt together, then cover the fish with the sugar/salt cure and set aside for 10 minutes. Wash the cure off the fish under cold running water and pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. The cod is now ready to be cooked, so at this stage it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to cook it – it will keep overnight in the fridge.
When you are ready to assemble the dish the next day, gently reheat the artichoke purée in a pan until it is piping hot. Meanwhile, cook the cod. Heat the sunflower oil in a large, non-stick frying pan until hot. Dust the pieces of cod with the curry powder. Once the pan is hot enough, add the cod pieces, presentation-side down, into the hot oil and then add the butter. Sauté the fish for 2–3 minutes, then carefully flip it over and cook for a further 30 seconds on the reverse side or until cooked and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and keep hot.
To serve, mix the pea shoots and mustard cress together. Core the apple and then cut it into small batons. Toss the apple batons with a little of the reserved pickling liquor from the pickled artichokes. Spoon the warmed artichoke purée on to serving plates. Place the pea shoots and cress on top, followed by the cod. Garnish the dish with the pickled artichokes and apple batons and then finally place a few artichoke crisps on top. Lightly drizzle the remaining pickling liquor around each plate and serve immediately.
When you buy fresh cod, it should be so fresh that it almost smells like freshly grated lime zest, and the colour of the flesh should be almost opaque. If the flesh is milky in colour with a slightly yellow tint and a faint ammonia smell, then you know it’s not fresh.