If you’d like to eat fish more often but don’t know how to prepare it, this super-simple, fragrant dish is the best place to start.
Top-quality, fresh fish is a must — for one, because it tastes sweet and non-fishy, and secondly because frozen cod is often dry and chewy. All the other ingredients are easy to obtain (indeed, you may have several of them in your pantry already) and simple to prepare.
Saffron, unfortunately, is expensive because the crocus stamens that form this exquisite spice are hand-plucked with tweezers by lovely women in La Mancha, Spain’s saffron-growing region. (To produce one ounce of saffron, harvesters must pick the stigmas from 6,000 crocuses!) I buy it at Trader Joe’s, where it costs half (or less) than at any other store.
To add a little extra bulk (as well as carbohydrate and fiber), feel free to add a can of chickpeas at the same time as the peppers.
Other than that, you can serve this dish as-is, perhaps with a slice of crusty sourdough bread to mop up the delicious juices. Drizzling your plate with a little olive oil just before serving adds healthy fats and calories (for all you weight-gainers and keto-ers out there) and a delicious, Mediterranean flavor.
The soup base is suitable for freezing. Cooked fish doesn’t freeze well, however, so reheat the defrosted vegetables and add in the fresh fish fillets as described below.
Spanish cod in saffron broth
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion (red or yellow) halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 oz cured Spanish chorizo cured Spanish like that made by Palacios (which I buy at World Market); cut into thin slices and quarter (if you can’t find it, replace with 2 oz bacon; if you dont; eat pork, omit)
- 5 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
- 1 large bell pepper, red stemmed, seeded and cut into very thin strips
- 1 large bell pepper, yellow stemmed, seeded and cut into very thin strips
- 2 tsp smoked paprika powder
- 2 bay leaves
- generous pinch saffron threads about ½ tsp
- 15 oz chickpeas (garbanzos) soaked & cooked or canned, drained & rinsed before using. OPTIONAL; omit of you're eating a very low-carb/keto diet.
- ½ cup Noilly Prat (a delicious southern French vermouth) or or white wine; if you don't consume alcohol, substitute chicken broth with a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 cup chicken bone broth
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 12 olives green and/or black, pitted, halved lengthwise
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lbs fresh cod fillet cut into four equal pieces
- a squeeze lemon juice fresh
- ½ cup parsley coarsely chopped
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the chopped onion and chorizo and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the onion turns translucent.
- Add the garlic and bell peppers and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Add thyme, smoked paprika and saffron and cook for another minute.
- Add vermouth or wine (if using), chicken bone broth, chickpeas (if using), olives, black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. (The olives and chorizo are rather salty, so don't salt heavily at this point; you can always add a little more just before serving). Bring to a bubble, cover and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes.
- Nestle the cod portions among the vegetables, chickpeas (if using) and olives. Simmer gently for 3-4 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish filets), spooning the sauce over the fish as it cooks.
- When the fish is done (you'll know when it flakes easily when gently poked with the tip of a paring knife; about 5 minutes, depending on thickness), remove the lid. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and scatter with the chopped parsley.
- Serve immediately; accompany with a salad of mixed greens lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.