I had a revelation last evening. It was entirely unexpected, which is the nature of revelations I guess. I was preparing dinner for a group of friends, testing recipes at the same time as I often do. On the menu was a dish I’d never made but that I was sure would be wonderful, “dos de cabillaud” or loin of cod, topped with pearls from a finger lime.
Testing recipes begins long before I get in the kitchen, and yesterday’s exercise was no exception. First, I had to procure finger limes, no small feat here in France.
What are finger limes? They’re an amazing little citrus from northern New South Wales and south eastern Queensland, Australia, that were discovered in the mid-19th century (citrus australasica). Their flesh is a collection of translucent pearls that can range from pale yellow to deep burgundy. After much searching, I procured some from a local wholesale market.
I went early to the market in Le Neubourg where, thanks to my favorite fish monger, Bruno, I left with two pieces of the most gorgeous loin of cod I’ve ever seen. Several stops at other shops concluded the hunting/gathering part of recipe testing and, by late afternoon, I was in the kitchen.
The revelation of the evening came on two levels. The first was in the cooking of the cod. I set the oven at 320F (160C). I cut the cod into thick rectangles, set it in a pan with some butter, and popped it in the oven. When I removed it 8 minutes later it was pearly white, exquisitely gorgeous.
I let it sit to release its juices while I finished scooping out the tart green pearls from the finger limes. I transferred a piece of cod to each plate, sprinkled it with fleur de sel, then garnished it with a row of pearls.
I don’t think I’ve ever had more perfectly cooked fish. It was so pure, moist, and tender it stopped conversation. The foil of pearls, which burst with delicate acidity when you bite into them, couldn’t have been more perfect.
The whole dish took 10 minutes to prepare. It’s now a permanent part of my collection!
COD WITH PEARLS
CABILLAUD AUX PERLES
If you’d like to make this a main dish, I suggest cooking potatoes and crushing them with some unsalted butter, then placing the cod atop them.
Four 4 ounce (120g) pieces of cod loin, trimmed to rectangles that measure about 2 x 2 x 5-inches (5 x 5 x 12.5cm)
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
4 finger limes
Fleur de sel
1. Preheat the oven to 320F (160C).
2. Rinse the cod, pat it dry, and refrigerate.
3. Place the butter in a heavy, oven-proof skillet and place it in the oven to melt.
4. When the butter is melted, set the cod in the pan and return to the oven for 8 minutes.
5. While the cod is cooking, split the finger limes in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the pearls into a small dish, discarding any seeds.
6. When the cod is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit in the pan for 5 minutes while you continue scooping out the pearls from the limes.
7. To serve. Set a piece of cod in the center of a warmed, small plate. Season the cod with fleur de sel, then top with a line of pearls. Serve immediately.
4 first course servings