This recipe is everything you need it to be: tasty, healthy, quick and relatively cheap.
I came up with it in 15 minutes just by opening the fridge and freezer (which were looking rather bare) a few times in a row in a desperate search for inspiration. I’m sure you’ll know this situation, especially if you have a toddler to feed and it’s lunch time already. No time to mess about!
I get great pleasure from coming up with something decent to eat using only whatever I can find in my fridge and cupboards. There and then, on the spot – a bit like “ready steady cook”. This is therefore a good one to make when you’ve run out of other fresh options and are pressed for time (i.e. can’t go buying special ingredients just for the sake of one recipe).
A good strategy is to always have something to “save you” and bring the flavours up when home-cooking at short notice. To avoid resorting to processed foods and ready meals, stock up in advance on natural basic key ingredients that keep well for a long time. This way you should never have to resort to artificial flavour enhancers such as stock cubes, jar sauces or artificial salad dressings.
Fresh herbs – these bring wonderful flavours to your healthy cooking but the problem is you’re bound to be out of them when you most need them! My advice is: buy your favourite ones and freeze them on the day. Frozen herbs work rather well and some seem to do as good a job as their fresh versions. This is exactly what helped me add a little (but potent) extra flavour to my otherwise rather bland frozen cod. And yes, it would have tasted nice even without the Parma ham/bacon wrap that I had as left-over from a couple of days before…
Frozen fish is also another very good thing to leave sitting in your freezer. It is bound to come to your rescue in emergencies, especially as it cooks very quickly straight from frozen. They keep well and, in my experience, the so called “fresh ones” from the supermarket counter perform no better for either taste or texture. If you’re lucky to live by the seaside, you can then argue that fresh will be much better. But if you, like me, live in the middle of the country with the nearest beach a couple of hours away, I’d say don’t miss out on frozen fish.
So let’s get to the recipe.
Frozen Cod – Quick and Tasty
4 frozen cod portions straight from the freezer
4 strips of parma ham or bacon
4 little dabs of butter
Dill and tarragon to season
Salt and pepper to taste
Get the frozen cod portions out of the freezer and wrap them round with the Parma ham/bacon strips (one for each fish portion). The frozen portions are great to handle as there’s no mess and everything is nice and dry. Get a piece of foil (big enough to form a loose parcel around all four fish portions) and place the wrapped fish in the middle. Cut the lemon into four pieces, squeeze some of the juice on top of the fish and distribute the lemon pieces around the fish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the butter knobs scattered around on top of the fish and break off some of the dill and tarragon leaves scattering them on top. I never say how much of the herbs you should use because this is down to your personal taste. If you haven’t tried these herbs yet, I advise you experiment with them as I personally think they go very well with fish. But by all means feel free to replace them with your own favourites. The main point is to adjust the recipe to your personal taste and make sure you fully enjoy it. That’s what I always do with recipes and I encourage you to do the same with mine. Nothing is very “precise” here.
Put your one big parcel on top of a tray or oven-proof glass dish just to make sure it won’t ooze out inside the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, open the top of the parcel and if you want, place it all under the grill for 5 minutes just to crisp up the bacon a little and give it a bit of extra colour.
When ready, serve with steamed vegetables (I used steamed green beans, carrots and white cabbage). Make sure you do not waste the juice that gathers in the parcel. This is a perfect dressing for the vegetables!
My 2 ½ year old son loved this meal and it was precisely for his lunch that I cooked this after opening the fridge and realising the soup I had made for him the day before run out! Thankfully, I always have some frozen fish and herbs in the freezer and the Parma ham was a left over from a home-made pizza I had made on the weekend.
I hope you enjoy this one and please send me your personal touches to it. I’m all up for experimentation in the kitchen.