Cod cakes are a traditional Newfoundland dish that many Newfies still eat weekly. The ingredients are not perishable, so this dish would see people through a long, ice-bound winter.
The summer savory is not absolutely required, but it does add a nice flavor, and savory is pretty much the “official” herb of Newfoundland. Wherever you go in Newfoundland, if a dish features an herb, it will be summer savory, and savory stuffing is the standard stuffing for fish and birds alike.
As for the salt pork fat, you can simply discard the crunchy little bits after you’ve rendered the fat, but in Newfoundland, they would most likely be saved to use as the “condiment” called scrunchions, which are usually served with cod tongues (though I find they are pleasant with the cod cakes, as well).
Because the fish has to be soaked, you need to start this dish the night before you plan to make the recipe. It’s a fair bit of work, but it’s worth the effort. And once you know how to work with salt cod, you will find a world of traditional recipes opening up to you, from the bacalao of Portugal to the brandade de morue of southern France. Continue reading
Cod was and is so important to Newfoundland that it has been memorialized in this St. John's sidewalk.
Cod is considered by many to be the world’s most important saltwater fish. It was certainly the first fish to become widely popular, consumed in large quantities since the Upper Paleolithic period. Nice flavor, white flesh, and flaky texture aside, cod historically has been valued because it has the wonderful quality of being easy to preserve. Simply by salting, and even by drying alone, cod could last for years. For millennia, salt cod or dried cod was the only fish available inland, away from the coasts, and it was one of the few foods that could be transported by ship during long voyages without getting moldy. It was at one time a nearly universal food, and was a staple in Scandinavian countries, the countries of the Iberian Peninsula, Africa, and North America.
Cod was the food that fueled the “Age of Vikings.” From the ninth century to the eleventh, Scandinavian seafaring warriors raided and colonized widely in Europe, spreading outward and establishing settlements from Russia to Iceland—and, some theorize, even as far afield as North America. It was cod that both provisioned and financed the Norsemen’s voyages. Their unspoilable cargo, which was sometimes called the “beefsteak of the sea,” made it possible to stay at sea for long periods without concern for food, but also gave the Vikings a medium of trade, for these Norsemen were traders almost as often as they were conquerors. A healthy fish-processing industry in Iceland and Norway during the ninth century made it possible to supply foreign markets as well as domestic ones. Continue reading
Of course, following a history of oranges, I need to offer you a recipe that uses this popular fruit. The easy and elegant recipe below comes from Brazil. The Portuguese are known to have been growing oranges there by 1587. Today, Brazil is one of the world’s leading commercial producers of sweet and mandarin oranges, leading even China and the United States. Hence, it is no surprise to find those mandarins known as tangerines showing up in cooking. Sea bass is a lovely fish with a delicate flavor. If you want to share this with friends, the recipe doubles easily. Serving this with a little white rice would give you something to soak up the lovely juice.
Peixe com Môlho de Tangerina
(Fish in Tangerine Sauce)
1 pound sea bass fillet
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup dry white whine
1/2 cup tangerine juice
Butter an ovenproof casserole dish that is only a little larger than your fish (you want to keep the sauce close to the fillet). Set the oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the onion, separating the rings. Combine the white wine and tangerine juice, and set aside. Continue reading
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