Blackened Black Cod with Sauce Gribiche

Joined Mar 11, 2007
1-1/2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh Thyme
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh Oregano
½ Teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 Teaspoons sweet Hungarian Paprika
½ Teaspoon ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon ground Fennel seed
2 pounds Black Cod filet, skinned
1 Tablespoon Canola or Grapeseed oil
½ Lemon (seeded) for finishing
2 Tablespoons Persillade

1 Bunch Italian Parsley, leaves only
3 large cloves Garlic

Wash and dry the parsley and finely chop on a cutting board, then gather it to one side of the board. Finely chop the Garlic. Mix them together and chop some more until well incorporated. Transfer to a small container, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps in the refrigerator a day or two.

Aioli (Makes 1-1/2 cups)
3 large cloves Garlic
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt + a pinch more for finishing
3 large Egg yolks
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Teaspoon freshly squeezed Lemon juice
1 Cup Grapeseed oil
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For Sauce Gribiche
2 Tablespoons chopped Cornichons
2 Tablespoons drained Capers
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh Tarragon
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian Parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Chives
1 hard boiled Egg, peeled and coarsely grated on the largest holes of a box grater.

To prepare the aïoli, on a cutting board, crush the garlic with the back of a knife and remove the peel. Add the cloves of garlic along with the 1 teaspoon sea salt. Using the pestle, work the garlic by pressing it against the sides of the bowl until it forms a glistening paste, about one minute. Add the egg yolks, mustard, and lemon juice, and blend the ingredients until smooth about 30 seconds.

Dribble 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil into the mortar with one hand while using the pestle in the other hand to fully incorporate the oil with a swirling motion. Be patient! Repeat, incorporating a second tablespoon until the mixture is emulsified, then once again with a third tablespoon. At this point the emulsion should be ready to accept additional oil easily. Slowly drizzle in the remaining oil with the same swirling motion of the pestle to maintain the emulsion. Be sure that the oil you've added is completely absorbed before adding more. When all the grapeseed oil is incorporated, add the extra virgin olive oil in the same manner, slowly and carefully. Because salt can make the difference between flavor that is good and flavor that is great, stir in a pinch of salt, taste, and adjust if necessary.

Tip from the chef. I prefer making aïoli in a mortar with the pestle because it yields a sauce with a silky texture that I find a incomparable. I think it's actually worth buying a mortar and pestle four. If you do not have a mortar pestle handy, feel free to use a hand whip and a mixing bowl instead -- just be sure to finely chop the garlic first. I like to use a squirt bottle to control the gentle stream of oil. If the mixture becomes too thick or dense and you have a hard time incorporating all the oil, loosen it up by mixing in a teaspoon of lukewarm water.

Sauce Gribiche
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together. The resulting sauce should be pretty thick, but if you think it needs thinning, stir in a bit of cold water. Refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to use.

To make the Cod, in a small bowl, mix the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, cayenne, paprika, cumin and fennel. Generously coat the fish on both sides with the spice mixture. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Brush the bottom of the pan with 1 tablespoon of oil (the pan should be hot enough so the oil smokes). Carefully add the fish filets and cook until blackened on both sides. About 2 minutes per side.

To serve, transfer the filets to a platter, squeeze the lemon over the fish, and sprinkle with Persillade. Serve hot with the sauce on the side.

To drink:
The buttery, high fat content of the Black Cod coated with the spices and the salty herbaceous flavors of sauce Gribiche meet their match in Trimbache Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling from France.
In Oregon, Chelhalem Dry Riesling Reserve has a fruity intensity and razor sharp acidity that seems to add weight to the already meaty black cod and highlights the briny sauce.

Recipe courtesy of "The Paleys Place Cookbook," written by Vitally Paley and Kimberly Paley with Robert Reynolds, Ten Speed Press, 2008
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