Seared Black Cod, Saffron Couscous, Fennel and Carrot Confit, Tomato Coulis

On a recent visit to one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Luc, I tried their vegetarian couscous dish and fell in love with all the flavors.  The many components to the dish makes it a little labor intensive for a small family meal, but I had to try it out to see if I could recreate it.  A few variations are inevitable in my kitchen.  

On the plate:
Pan Seared Oregon Coast Fresh Wild Black Cod
Saffron Couscous
Candied Meyer Lemon
Fennel and Carrot Confit
Carrot Sauce
Roma Tomato Coulis

Saffron Couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed between your fingers
1 cup couscous
salt and pepper to taste
Combine broth, 1 tbsp butter, and saffron to boil in a large saucepan.  Stir to mix in butter.  Remove from heat and stir in the couscous.  Cover and let stand until all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and stir in 1 tbsp of butter.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Fennel and Carrot Confit
2 Medium Carrots
1 Small Fennel bulb
1 1/4 cups olive oil (I used the oil from making the tomato coulis below)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Use a vegetable peeler and shave the carrots into very thin ribbons.  Cut the fennel in half and slice very thinly lengthwise.  
In a large sauce pan, heat the oil with the paprika and salt until oil is warm.  I had about 2/3 cup oil from making the tomato coulis and decided to reuse it here and added another 1/2 cup of new olive oil.  You don't want the oil to fry the carrots and fennel, just gently cook them.  Add the carrots and fennel and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until they are tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain the oil and transfer vegetables into a dish to cool.  You can keep the oil for salad dressing or other use.

Carrot Sauce
2 small or 1 large carrot, very thinly sliced
1 cup carrot juice
2 tbsp butter
pinch of paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the carrot slices with a little chicken broth until very tender.  Combine the carrot, carrot juice, and paprika in a blender and puree.  Pour into a medium sauce pan and bring to a light boil for about 7 minutes to reduce a bit.  Add the butter, a bit at a time, stirring constantly.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Coulis
Thinking about how to make this, I decided the intense flavors of the Pomodori al Forno I have previously referenced would be the way to go.  I adjusted the recipe slightly as follows:
2 lbs Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise and seeded
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp sugar (depending on tomato quality and time of year, I use more sugar at the low season)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 garlic clove minced
2 tsp minced fresh flat Italian parsley
In a glass or porcelain baking dish, drizzle half the oil, place tomatoes cut side up, and then drizzle remaining oil on top.  Sprinkle evenly the sugar, salt and oregano.  Bake for 1 hour in a 275f oven.  Flip the tomatoes and bake for another hour.  Flip again and bake for another 45 minutes.  Then again for 30 minutes and one last flip to face side up for another 30 minutes.  About 5 minutes before the final baking, sprinkle on the minced garlic and return to the oven.  Once finished, remove the tomatoes from the oil and layer in a dish with the parsley and let cool.  Once cooled, puree in a food processor.  Strain and keep the oil to use for a salad dressing or as I am doing, for the carrot and fennel confit.

Candied Meyer Lemon
1 Meyer lemon
1 cup sugar
Slice lemon very thinly, removing any seeds and ends of lemon.  Bring a small pot of water to boil.  Drop lemons in and stir for a minute.  Drain and plunge lemons into a ice bath.  Drain.  This will help to take away the bitterness in the rind of the lemon. Combine sugar and 1 cup of water in a wide shallow pan and bring to a boil.  Add lemon slices and turn heat down low to simmer for about an hour.   Remove and drain on parchment paper until ready to use.  I made mine earlier in the day and once cooled, I covered with saran wrap.  I saved the syrup for another use. 

Seared Black Cod
1 lb fresh black cod
1 tbsp grape seed oil
Cut cod into 4 pieces.  Rinse and dry the cod on paper towels.  Salt and pepper.  Heat  a heavy cast iron skillet over high heat.  Once pan is hot, drizzle in the grape seed oil.  The grape seed oil is great for this use as it does not impart much flavor and has a high smoke point.  Sear the fish, flesh side down first, pressing on it gently to make sure the entire surface touches the pan evenly.  Sear the fish for 1-2 minutes then flip over to skin side and continue to cook until fish is about medium.  Don't overcook, it would be a sin.  I prefer to err on the rare side as the fish will continue to cook a little as it sits.

The couscous and the accompaniments were as I remembered.  But the black cod was the star.  It was so silky and fresh and as I said to Stella... I brought my A game to the fish. It was an A+.


  1. That is art. I want to paint it!! Beautiful. Looks amazing.


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