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Lingcod: Don't Be Put Off by Color

The Fish Market

February 21, 1985|ISAAC CRONIN and PAUL JOHNSON | Cronin and Johnson are co-authors of "The California Seafood Cookbook."

Lingcod, although it is similar in taste and texture to Atlantic and Alaskan cod, is not a cod. The lingcod forms schools to spawn in the winter months, and fishers often net large quantities at this time of year.

The lingcod is sometimes sold whole, and some consumers are put off by its bright blue or green skin. The brilliant emerald green hue is produced by the lingcod's diet, which includes a great deal of chlorophyll. The color may also pervade the meat, although it disappears when the fish is cooked.

Lingcod is also available in steak and fillet form. The meat is very lean, flaky and finely textured with a mild, sweet flavor. It is best cooked with a wet heat method such as braising or poaching. It is also excellent sauteed or deep-fried. The lingcod's golden roe is delicious dusted with flour and fried in butter. It also can be salted to produce a caviar.

In this dish, chunks of firm fish, tomatoes and curry spices are wrapped in an envelope of chard and baked in a flaky pie crust.

CURRIED LINGCOD PIE

1/2 pound chard

Pastry for 2-crust pie

3 tablespoons oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped ginger root

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt

1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 pound lingcod, swordfish or halibut, cut into 1-inch cubes

Wash and dry chard. Remove leaves from stems and tear each leaf into 4 or 5 pieces.

Divide dough in half and roll out 1 piece to 12-inch circle. Place dough in pie plate and pierce with fork in several places. Bake at 350 degrees 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add cumin, turmeric, coriander and season to taste with salt. Cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Roll out other half of dough to 12-inch circle. Line bottom of reserved pie pan with half of chard leaves. Place tomatoes and lingcod on top of chard and cover with onion mixture. Cover pie with top crust. Pinch 2 crusts around edges. Cut off any overhanging top crust. Pierce top crust with fork in 5 or 6 places. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until browned. Serve hot or warm. Makes 6 main course servings, 8 to 10 appetizer servings.

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