Roast cod with fennel, mussels and dill sauce


Brining the Cod:
1 x 500g cod loin, skinned
1lt water
100g sea salt

Fennel Salad:
200g fennel, finely sliced
20ml lemon juice
100ml olive oil
20ml Pernod
10g sugar
5g dill, finely chopped
Salt to taste
20ml water

Mussel and Dill Sauce:
1kg fresh cleaned mussels
750ml white wine
25g shallots, finely chopped
10ml oil
100ml Vermouth, Noilly Prat
250ml mussel stock, from cooking the mussels
100g unsalted butter, cubed
50ml double cream
10g dill, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Lemon to taste

Finishing the Dish:
4 x cod portions
100g unsalted butter
2 x lemon wedges
Fennel salad
Cooked mussels
Mussel sauce

Words by:
Gareth Bartram
Featured in:
December 2021

Create your own fine dining experience at home with these special seasonal recipes from award-winning Winteringham Fields head chef Gareth Bartram.

This dish is incredibly simple, but unbelievably tasty. Using the freshest seafood paired with the aniseed notes of fennel is just a winner every time. Whether cooking this dish for yourself for supper in front of the fire, or to impress at a dinner party, it ticks all the boxes.

• Bring half the water to the boil and add the salt. Once it’s dissolved, add the rest of the water and cool the brine down in the fridge. When cold, place the cod into the brine and leave for 10 minutes. Remove the cod from the brine and rinse under cold water, and then dry on a clean tea towel. Once dry, cut into four equal pieces and leave in the fridge until needed.

• Mix everything together, but the fennel in a bowl until well combined. Taste and correct with more salt and lemon until you’re happy with the seasoning. Add the fennel and leave to one side.

• First of all you need to cook the mussels. Bring the wine to the boil in a saucepan and reduce by a third, then add the mussels and cover the pan with a lid. Leave the mussels in the pan for around 2 minutes until they open. Pour the mussels into a colander set over a bowl to catch the stock; this is your mussel stock for the sauce.

• Leave the mussels to cool until you can handle them. Remove the mussels from the shells and leave in the fridge to cool completely.

• Now we can make the sauce. Sweat off the shallots with no colour in the oil, then add the vermouth and reduce until almost gone, then add the mussel stock and reduce by half to intensify the flavour. Keep on the boil and add the butter a cube at a time; whisking continuously you will notice it start to thicken. Once all the butter has been added, add your cream and dill, taste the sauce and correct the seasoning with the salt and the lemon. Keep warm.

Place a little mound of fennel in the centre of each plate, then place a frying pan on a high heat with a little oil. Lightly season the cod with a little salt and place in the hot pan. When you can see the fish change colour to about half you can add the butter, let this foam and turn nutty brown. You can then baste the fish in the foaming butter, for only about 2 minutes, then a squeeze of lemon and remove from the pan straight onto the fennel salad. Add four to six mussels per person into the warm sauce and reheat until hot, then pour the sauce over the fish. Eat immediately.

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