As I’ve mentioned previously, I bought a new smoker and am having lot of fun playing with it. While I’ve mostly been experimenting with fish and meat, I love having fun with my garden veggies as well. This dish in particular shows a more delicate application of smoke and I think it’s one of the best sauces I’ve ever done for fish especially.
For the Tomato Butter
4 large tomatoes
salt & pepper
A few garlic cloves (optional)
2 sticks salted butter
Core your tomatoes so the smoke can get into the meat of the tomato.
Use a pan to smoke them, as you’ll want to keep the juice that will eventually start to leak out of the vegetables.
Cost the veggies with a little olive oil (I threw some zucchini on the pan as well for later since my garden is overrun with it).
Salt & pepper the veggies.
Set your smoker to around 200 degrees. Place the pan in the smoker and let it go for about three hours, or when the tomatoes are very soft and starting to blacken in spots.
When the tomatoes are done, pick them up with a large spoon and place in a colander over a bowl.
With the spoon, press the tomatoes so all the juice goes into the bowl, leaving the skin, seeds, etc.
Discard what’s in the colander. Pour the juice into a saucepan and on medium heat, reduce the juice down by about a third. Taste it for depth of tomato flavor and reduce further if you have to.
Add two sticks of salted butter and on low, melt them into the juice.
For the rest of the dish
4 cod fillets
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
handful of fresh basil
Some of the smoked garlic cloves (if you used them).
Pat the cod fillets very dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of the tomato butter in a 10-inch or similar cast-iron or heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Gently lower the fish into the oil, moving away from your body with your motion in case the oil splatters. Lower the heat to medium.
Let the fish cook undisturbed on the first side for 2 to 3 minutes, until the underside is nicely golden.
Gently flip the cod over. A flexible, thin metal spatula (such as a fish spatula) works best. The cod might stick a bit at first, but work gently and firmly and you’ll get it. To serve, Place the cod in a shallow bowl along with the optional smoked garlic cloves. Portion a tablespoon or two of the sauce over each of the 4 pieces of cod. You’ll have leftover, which you’ll want after you taste it.
Chiffonade a bit of fresh basil and use it to top the fish, along with the pine nuts. You’ll want to serve this with a spoon because the sauce is the star here. Were I not limiting carbs lately, I’d have served it with some focaccia or fregola. If you do, let me know and I’ll enjoy it vicariously through you.
Try one of those nice summer roses that you’ve got on the shelf. For a very special evening, (which this dish ensures), try a bottle of the Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rose.
You’ll be smoking in style.