Tonight’s supper was my interpretation of the wonderful meal I had a Jose Pizarro’s restaurant in the Royal Academy of Arts in March (click here). I was particularly keen to make the blood orange salad, which was so gorgeous.
I’ve been buying blood oranges recently from the local Twickenham greengrocer P. Cooper & Sons. It’s half shop, half stall, situated on a corner right in the centre of the high street with stands spilling onto the outside pavement area when they’re open. It’s been there as long as I’ve been in Twickenham – more than 35 years! In fact, they’ve apparently been trading there for 70 years and can trace their history back 200 years. To be honest, I haven’t used it a lot (lazy supermarket buying!) but recently have popped in more often, partly in thanks to my grandsons Freddie (7) and Ben (4). Last Halloween they chose little pumpkins at Coopers to decorate at home and the staff are so friendly, the grandsons haven’t forgotten. Now they see the blood oranges and since I first bought some and taught them how to use my old juicer to make a drink, I can’t pass Coopers with them without them wanting to buy blood oranges! Being little boys the idea of blood oranges is very appealing, as I’m sure you can imagine. But they also love the taste and tell me they’re delicious.
I didn’t have a grandson with me this morning when I was out shopping in the high street, but as I passed Coopers, and was thinking about what I would cook for supper this evening (yes, I’m thinking about it early in the morning! Food is frequently on my mind), I remembered the salad at the RA and decided today was the day I would make it.
I did a quick search online to see if I could find any recipes but didn’t, so what I made is definitely an interpretation. There wasn’t a quail egg within walking distance, so a standard (though organic!) hen’s egg was used. I bought spring onions and a red pepper from Coopers as well as the oranges (and was tempted by some chicory and punnets of gorgeous looking strawberries too while I was at it). I wasn’t sure if the vermouth vinaigrette was made with vermouth or a vinegar made from it. I decided against straight vermouth and used an apple vinegar I had instead (I’d planned to use white wine vinegar but it was a bit old and no longer white!).
For the fish, I had a portion of cod loin in the freezer I’d defrost. I forgot to buy spinach for this dish so put a little rocket salad on the side and also roasted diced new potatoes. I often roast potatoes this way – partly for speed; partly because I love the extra caramelised edges you get from so many little pieces; and I also like the look of them alongside a portion of fish. The roasted red pepper that goes on the fish, I prepared fairly close to the time I planned to eat. I felt nothing should be prepared too far in advance.
I did prepare the spring onion to go on top of the orange salad about an hour before eating. When I ate at the RA the onion had taken up the dressing enough for me to feel it hadn’t just been put on and I wanted to recreate that lovely flavour.
I cooked this just for myself, but of course it’s easily doubled or quadrupled for more servings.
Pan-Roasted Cod with a Blood Orange Salad
- 1 piece of cod loin or fillet
- salt & pepper
- 1 red pepper
- a few stems of chives, finely sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
- knob of butter
- roast potatoes, to serve, and a small rocket salad
Blood Orange Salad
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple or white wine vinegar
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 blood oranges
- 1 egg (or 2 quails’ eggs) boiled, still soft in middle
- 4 black olives, halved
First, make the vinaigrette with the oil and vinegar. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Mix well.
Put the finely sliced spring onions in a small bowl and spoon over a little of the vinaigrette – about an hour before eating – and set aside.
About 45 minutes before eating, put potatoes for roasting into a hot oven. Put the red pepper in with them, straight on the shelf. Turn maybe once or twice and cook until blackening in a few places and you can see the skin bursting (about 10-15 minutes). Remove pepper from oven and put in a sealed freezer bag – this will help the peeling of the skin. Remove after a few minutes and when cool enough to handle (it will be very hot at first), peel the skin away. Cut into quarters and remove core and seeds.
While the potatoes are cooking, boil the egg – just enough to set softly (about 3 minutes once the water has come to the boil). You don’t want hard-boiled eggs.
When the potatoes are done and you’re almost ready to do the last-minute cooking of the cod, make the orange salad.
Cut away the peel on 2 oranges. Cut the stem and bottom ends off. Stand and use a very sharp knife to cut away the pith and peel. Then slice the orange.
Lay the orange on a serving plate – in a big circle and filling the middle with the last rings of orange.
Lay the halved olives round the edge.
Spoon the prepared, marinated spring onion into the middle of the plate of oranges. Spoon a little more vinaigrette over the orange.
Lay the quarters of egg on top at the edge of the circle of orange slices. Sprinkle a little paprika over them.
Now cook the fish. Season the cod with salt, pepper and some paprika (I was going for the Spanish effect!).
Heat a little oil (about a tablespoon) and a knob of butter in a small frying pan. When it’s bubbling, add the fish, skin side down (or where there was skin if it’s been skinned). Spoon a little of the hot oil over the top occasionally. As you see the fish cooking (the edges starting to whiten), turn it over and cook the other side.
When the fish is cooked, transfer to a serving plate. Lay a quarter of the roasted red pepper over the top. Drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle over the chives.
Dish out the potatoes and dress a little rocket in olive oil and add to the plate. Now your fabulous supper is ready!
It felt wonderfully indulgent for a midweek supper – and I was very pleased with myself! I drank some lovely cool rosé with it.
It all worked brilliantly. The fish was perfectly cooked and all the accompaniments worked well. But the highlight for me was still that glorious blood orange salad. It may not have been quite what Pizarro makes, but it pleased me greatly. It’s a combination of fresh and sweet and really would make a lovely light supper all on its own with some good bread.