Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cod in Spicy Fennel and Orange Tomato Sauce

Last night I adapted a cod recipe from Patricia Well's excellent and easy-to-use Provence Cookbook (recipe follows). Fresh cod is gently poached in a tomato sauce accented by fennel seeds, chili flakes, and a bunch of orange zest. It was really delicious with a baguette and a green salad.

After discussing a wine pairing with Charlie, we agreed that I should ignore Well's advice to choose a red Cotes du Rhone and instead select a nice rosé. I chose the 2004 Domaine des Aphillantes Cotes du Rhone Rosé. It was highly extracted and very dark, and the aroma seemed to blend candy, cranberries, and ozone. The wine was a nice match for the food. Hints of sweetness from the ripe grapes paired well with the spicy sauce. It was not your Daddy's tavel, however.


Chili flakes to taste
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
1 tsp. anchovie paste
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. sweet vermouth
28 oz can of whole tomatoes passed through a food mill
1/2 tsp. fennel
Zest of 1 orange
Bouquet garni
Fresh cod fillets
2 tbsp green olives, chopped
Parsley for garnish

In a sauce pan, heat chili flakes and garlic in olive oil. Add onions and sauté over low heat until soft but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add pastes and cook until dissolved. Deglaze with sweet vermouth and reduce to a glaze. Add tomatoes, fennel, zest, and bouquet garni and simmer for a while (half an hour would do, but longer is better). Add cod fillets to barely simmering sauce and poach gently for 5-6 minutes depending on thickness. Remove to plates and garnish with sauce, olives, and parsley.

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