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~ Mel's 30-Minute "Brain Food" Meal: Broiled Cod w/ Spicy Saffron Rice, Peas & Stewed Tomato Sauce ~

IMG_9309"Fish is brain food."  That's what my mother always said -- to entice us to eat it.  I never had to try to buy into that fish tale because the fish I ate as a child was quite good, and, as far as I was concerned, I was a sharp kid.  (Back then, "fish is brain food" was a claim that was dismissed as an "old wives tale".)  Like a lot of the world, our household fasted on religious "Fish-Fry Fridays" (as I now affectionately refer to them), but, shrimp cocktail and fried salmon patties were the only two recipes in my mom's repertoire.  Why?  Those were the only two brain foods my father would eat, so, that was that.  Charlie the Starkist tuna did not live in my mother's pantry!

When it came to succulent shrimp cocktail and crispy pan-fried salmon patties, no one had to call me or my brother to the dinner table twice.  When I got to 9th grade, I encountered my first white fish.  It was in the form of pre-frozen, breaded fish sticks.  It was served with macaroni and cheese and stewed tomatoes. The year was 1969, and, our brand new high school school came equipped with our school district's first cafeteria.  I loved this meal, and, a few short years later, I was married with children and cooking my own version of this meal for my family!

Fettuccine Alfredo #1 (Intro Picture)Yesterday, I received this e-mail from a gal in Erie, PA:

Marcie says and asks:  I made your Fettuccini Alfredo a la Primavera yesterday and my family loved it.  I used frozen broccoli and carrots, which saved time.  I never thought I'd see my children eat these veggies without complaint. Do you have any quick and easy ideas to get them to eat fish?

IMG_9164Kitchen Encounters:  Marcie, when it comes to kids, fish might be a tougher "sell" than vegetables enrobed in cream and cheese.  My boys all went through "that picky stage", but, they did eat my broiled cod with spicy saffron rice.  In honesty, they loved the rice so much, they'd eat almost anything if I served it with Vigo rice. With its risotto-like consistency, this was one of my secret motherly weapons!

We moms all have recipes like this & I'm happy to share mine! 

UnknownA bit about cod:  As Mark Kurlansky so elequently writes in his book: "The codfish.  Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based upon it, economies and livelihoods have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it.  To the millions it has sustained, it has been a treasure more precious than gold.  Indeed, the codfish has played a fascinating and crucial role in world history".

Alaskan cod is the same species as that of the East Coast. As far back as the 16th century, countries came to North America to fish for it along the Atlantic, Nova Scotia and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

This mild, sweet-flavored fish with it's large, "white-meat" flakes, was the original fish 'n chips fish, because it held up so well under the rigors of deep-frying.  It does the same in stews and chowders, and, in my opinion, is at it's best when broiled or baked! 

Two fresh cod fillets + a few pantry staples & three easy steps = one delicious, nutritious, weeknight, family-style meal.

NO chopping, NO dicing, NO slicing, NO kidding.

Set your timer for 30 minutes & let your family set the table! 

IMG_9136For the rice:

1  10-ounce bag Vigo yellow rice (Spanish-style rice with saffron and dried spices)

2 1/2  cups water

4-6  tablespoons butter

1  teaspoon red pepper flakes

2  cups frozen peas, unthawed

IMG_9142 IMG_9144~ Step 1.  In a 4-quart saucepan bring the water, butter and red pepper flakes to a boil. Sprinkle in the rice. Adjust heat to a steady, gentle simmer, cover, and cook until rice has absorbed almost all of the water, about 15 minutes.  Note:  I use a pot with a glass lid so I can keep an eye on the progress.

IMG_9150 IMG_9149Note:  This is not how the package directs to cook this rice, it is how I cook this packaged rice for this dinner.

Uncover the saucepan,  stir in the peas and cover the pot.  Turn heat off, but let sit on warm stovetop.

IMG_9171For the stewed tomato sauce:

1  28-can stewed tomatoes

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Note:  Stewed tomatoes.  My pantry is never without 2-3-4 cans of them. They are an amazing time saver. They've got chopped celery, onion, garlic and bell peppers already added to them, and, they're not overly salty.  In a pinch, a can of these is one of my go-to pantry items.  Today, I'm simply reducing them to form a chunky sauce!

IMG_9195 IMG_9174~ Step 2. Right after you bring the water to a boil for the rice, place the tomatoes and red pepper flakes in a 2-quart saucepan.  Bring to a steady simmer and cook, uncovered, until the rice is done, about 15 minutes. Turn heat off, cover the pot and allow to sit on still warm stovetop.

IMG_9210Note:  It has been 15 minutes, and, we've cooked both the rice and the tomato sauce.  Take a taste of each one.  I kid you not, this is REALLY good fast food!

There's more.  If you're waiting for hubby to get home from the office or the kids to get home from basketball practice, these two sides will wait patiently until you broil the fish!

IMG_9211For the cod:

2  whole wild cod fish filets, about 2 1/2-3 pounds

4-6  tablespoons butter

the juice of 1 fresh lemon

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing baking pan

IMG_9219~ Step 3.  Spray a small disposable aluminum broiler pan, the kind with a corrugated bottom, with cooking spray.  Place cod in the pan, folding the thin ends of the fish underneath the thick ends to make it fit.

Broil, about 6" underneath the preheated broiler until bubbly, thick sides of fish are opaque and top of fish is light golden, 12-14 minutes:

IMG_9247Portion, plate (rice, cod, tomatoes) and serve immediately:

IMG_9256Start to finish:  30 minutes.  Dig in:

IMG_8827Mel's 30-Minute "Brain Food" Meal:  Broiled Cod w/Spicy Saffron Rice, Peas & Stewed Tomato Sauce:  Recipe yields 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  4-quart saucepan w/tight fitting lid; 2-quart saucepan w/lid; 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom

6a0120a8551282970b016304f9d4bd970dCook's Note:  For a variation on this "mild white fish with rice and tomatoes" theme, and another one of my favorite fish dinners, click into Categories 3, 14, 15, 19 or 20 to get my recipe for ~ Baked Haddock w/Nicoise Sauce + Tips and Techniques for Handling Frozen Fish Fillets ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 


Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Yes! In many ways it was a simpler life.

Marilyn! Isn't it "funny" how similar our households were -- dinner menus revolved around what dad would and would not eat!

Mel ~ I remember that cafeteria fish stick menu! I especially loved it since my Dad did not like any fish. I really enjoyed the stewed tomatoes. We were not Catholic, so I was not beholden to Friday fish.
Wisconsin ,Friday fish fries are lengendary.
Your menu looks delish! Vigo rice is money!!


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