What a couple of weeks its been. Redundancy, leaving nights out (or day as it turned out) and then starting a new job have meant the last wee while’s been pretty chaotic. Still things are calming down now and a week of sunny weather put me in the mood for some sunny food on Friday.
When I first started cooking one of the first things I made for other people was roast cod wrapped in parma ham. It was from a fantastic cheap book full of about 400 recipes using only 3 or 4 ingredients (store cupboard essentials not included). As a learning resource this book was fantastic for a lazy fat man getting started with proper cooking. It taught me basic techniques, what foods work together etc. Now I’m further along my culinary journey I dusted down the book to try an old favourite again.
The book uses vine tomatoes but we had some cherry ones in the fridge so instead of roasting them for the full 30 minutes I just chucked them in at the end for a bit. Limiting the book to a few ingredients means it’s recipe uses only fish, ham and tomatoes. I decided some thyme would be a good addition and it would be a great dish to serve with a warm salad of green veg.
When I was in Edinburgh recently I had a black pudding and apple salad which used fine green beans that I hugely enjoyed. Picking up some beans in the supermarket I noticed some sugar snap peas that would also do well after being introduced to some hot olive oil so I grabbed them as well.
The fish with the salty, crisp ham was brilliant. It’s a classic combination. Adding the thyme was a nice touch and definitely added a bit more depth to the flavour. Perhaps it might be better to scatter the leaves and not place the thyme sprigs whole onto the fish but I quite liked the intense thyme explosion every time I bit into a section of fish containing it.
As for the salad; it worked so well we had it again the next day and it’s going to become a regular feature throughout the summer for me now. It’s a much better way to cook the beans than just boiling or steaming them. Adding flavour without destroying the texture and crunch of the beans. The peas seemed to carry it off pretty well too managing to keep their crunchy sweetness.
The whole dish was delicious and above all easy to make. I might not use the book it came from very often any more but occasionally I still open it and flick through it for a basic recipe I can try to elaborate on. If you’re starting out and learning to cook for the first time I reckon a book like that is essential to give you the confidence and repertoire you need to develop.
1 large cod fillet cut in half or 2 small ones
Parma ham – enough slices to cover the fish
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Fine green beans
Sugar snap peas
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
Pat dry the cod with a paper towel and season with pepper and a little salt.
Place one fillet skin side down on a roasting tin with a little oil in it.
Take the thyme and put it on the fillet so it runs the length of the cod.
The second fillet should be placed skin side up on top of the first. Thick end on top of the thin so that the parcel is an even size.
Wrap the ham around the fish so each piece overlaps slightly.
Don’t worry too much about making it wrap all the way round the bottom as the roasting tin will do the job of that.
Drizzle olive oil over the parcel and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Rinse the beans and peas in water then drain them and set aside.
5 minutes before the fish is ready fry the greens in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the tomatoes into the roasting tin with the fish.
Season them and add some parsley leaves.
Once the greens have got a bit of colour on them but are still crunchy put them in a small bowl to serve with the fish and tomatoes.