When I texted Barry from the Greenmarket asking whether he wanted me to pick up swordfish, flounder. cod, sole, hake, bluefish, mako shark, or clams, he replied that cod sounded good, especially since the evening would be cool enough for the terrific hot oven recipe. I had been thinking clams, but he was absolutely right, and fortunately the meal turned out absolutely right.
I bought clams the next day, this time from the market in the next block, and with his full agreement. I had already been thinking clams, but I texted anyway:
me: swordfish or clams?
Barry: clams and pasta
But first there was cod, and before the cod itself, potatoes.
And eventually tomatoes as well.
a one 14-and-a-half-ounce cod fillet from Pura Vida Seafood Company in the Union Square greenmarket, washed, rinsed, sliced down the center to make 2 long sections, of exactly the same weight, as it turned out (not always so easy), placed inside a platter on a bed of coarse sea salt, with more salt added on top until the cod was completely covered, and set aside while a ‘bed’ was prepared for them composed of 12 ounces of yellow-flesh, floury cooking Augusta potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm sliced to a thickness of roughly 1/4″ and tossed into a bowl with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and a pinch of a dried hickory smoked Jamaican Scotch bonnet peppers from Eckerton Hill Farm, the potatoes arranged overlapping inside a rectangular glazed ceramic oven pan and cooked for 25 minutes or so in a 400º oven, or until they were tender when pierced but not fully cooked, then, while near the end to that time the cod pieces were rinsed of the salt and thoroughly immersed in many fresh changes of water to bring down the saltiness, drained, dried, and placed inside the pan on top of the potatoes, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with black pepper, blanketed with thin slices of heirloom tomatoes from both Race Farm and Rise & Root Farm, the tomatoes seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, and the pan returned to the oven for about 8 or 9 minutes (the exact time always depends on the thickness of the fillets, but this was perfect for these), when the cod was removed with the help of 2 spatulas, along with as much of the tomatoes and potatoes as could be brought along with each piece, and everything arranged on the plates as intact as possible before it was garnished with chopped chives from Stokes Farm
- two of the beautiful Indian globe eggplants I had brought home from Gopal Farm, each cut horizontally into 4 slices, mixed with a little olive oil, one large chopped ‘Chesnok Red’ garlic clove from Alewife Farm, sea salt, and black pepper, pan-grilled on an enameled cast iron ribbed pan above a brisk flame, turning once, maybe twice, arranged on the plates and tossed with some torn peppermint leaves from Lani’s Farm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, garnished with more herb
- the wine was a Spanish (Rías Baixas/Val do Salnés) white, Benito Santos 2018 Rias Baixas Albariño Saiar, from Chambers Street Wines
- the music was Georg Anton Benda’s 1776 “short German Singspiel with a happy ending”, ‘Romeo und Julie’, Michael Schneider conducting the Vokalensemble Forum Alte Musik Bremen and La Stagione Frankfurt