slow roasted haddock with saffron sauce
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Slow roasted haddock or cod fillet? It means the fish is baked in the oven at a very low temperature. It means perfect baked fish every time. It means never overcooking. It means easy. It means healthy. Need I say more?
Another low temperature recipe or, as The Weather Man describes it: cooking in the warm place. This time fish, inspired by a restaurant meal where I was served the most unbelievably flaky, slimy and wet piece of cod; it looked raw and felt and tasted cooked and wonderful.
By way of explanation, ‘slimy’ is in my view the best complement you can pay a cooked piece of fish. Fighting the hateful word ‘moist’, I aim to describe tasty meat as juicy but it doesn’t really apply to fish. Slimy in my books means that it flakes easily, looks like it’s dripping with moisture (the noun is okay) but it isn’t, slips into the mouth like lightly oiled and has not a touch of dryness or stringiness. Slimy. Nailed it.
We all know (at least those of us who do know a thing or two about fish) that stringy, overcooked and dry are the three damning words when combined with fish. Deep frying seals it in the horribly unhealthy but disgustingly tasty cocoon of batter; no drying out possible unless left in the oil for hours. Searing is fine when you’re cooking tuna or thin fillets; it won’t quite cut it with thicker salmon fillets when you just don’t want the translucent middle. Grilling is a hit and miss; baking is sensible and what works even better is low temperature baking.
You need to sear it unless you’re serving the fish with sauce or you don’t care for the appetisingly scorched skin. The only potential issue is that the fish will not be piping hot, having spent its time in nearly ambient temperature. Two approaches that are unfortunately mutually exclusive, at least until I or someone cleverer works out the solution: sear beforehand to make it look good, or sear afterwards to serve it hot but risking the fillet falling to bits a little. The choice is yours; I prefer the pretty lukewarm, The Weather Man the piping and messy.
slow roasted haddock with saffron sauceServings: 2Time: 1 hour
- 2 cod or haddock loin fillet pieces, about 150g each, skinned
- white pepper
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1 tsp butter
- For the saffron sauce:
- 100ml white wine
- 100ml fish or vegetable stock
- a pinch of saffron strands
- 30g butter
- 2 tsp flour
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- salt and white pepper
- To serve:
- green beans
1. Set the oven to 75-80C; unfortunately this will only work in a good electric oven that keeps steady temperature, or a warming drawer with low temperature cooking function.
2. For the sauce, steep the saffron in lightly warmed up wine for 15 minutes or longer.
3. Season the fish fillets with salt and white pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sear the fish on the skin side for 1-2 minutes. Place them, skin side up in an oven dish and transfer to the oven or drawer. They need to cook for 45-50 minutes.
4. While the fish is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook over medium heat until it foams. Stir in the mustard powder. Slowly pour in the wine and stock, whisking the sauce, until smooth. Bring it to a simmer, reduce a little if it’s not thick enough and taste for seasoning; add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook the green beans al dente in plenty salted water. Drain and keep warm.
6. Plate up the fish on a pile of beans and serve with the sauce.