Roasted Ling Cod with Braised Mushroom and Root Vegetable Ragout


Serves 4

Ling Cod is one of the most delicious local fish, and it's a great option when seeking seafood that is sustainable. You can also use halibut with equally good results.

To enhance the mushroom flavour, I often add ground mushroom powder to the coating of the fish (porcini, pine mushroom or shiitake). To make the powder, I take dried mushrooms (available in most grocery stores) and grind them in a spice/coffee grinder.

“As usual,” says chef Bill Jones, whose recipe for holiday Ling cod appears at left, “there is a complicated answer about our oceans and fishery. The Pacific Cod fishery is rated (by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch) as a ‘Best Choice’ seafood for northern Pacific Fisheries when line-caught—which I use. Southern stocks and trawl-caught fish are rated a little lower as a ‘Good Choice.’

“The commercial fishing of Ling Cod (Ophiodon longatus) in the Strait of Georgia has been closed since 1991 due to poor stock numbers, and the closure continues to this day. The offshore numbers (outside Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlottes) are described as moderately abundant. There was a big collapse in the overall Pacific Cod fishery around 2000, when strict controls were put in place in help recover the stocks. Those results have been successful, and the northern fishery has been again rated a sustainable seafood harvest. Halibut is a good second choice, with much less conflicting info about location, etc.”

For more about sustainable seafood choices, visit the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program website.


Ragout:

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter or olive oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 cup turnip, diced

6 cups (1.5 L) chicken or mushroom stock

2 cups (500 mL) mushrooms (button, chanterelle, oyster, etc.)

1 tbsp (15 mL) rosemary, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) sage, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp (45 mL) flour

1 lb (454 g) ling cod (or halibut)

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and sauté the onion, carrots, celery, turnip and mushrooms. When the mixture just begins to brown, add the stock, rosemary, sage and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are softened and the liquid is reduced. Season well with salt and pepper and keep warm until needed.

On a plate, place the flour and season well with salt and pepper. Add the cod, one piece at a time and roll to coat. Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the cod. Repeat process with remaining pieces of fish. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the one side is crisp and well browned (about 2–3 minutes). Flip fish and cook second side for about 2 minutes.

To serve, ladle ragout into a warmed serving bowl and top with the piece of fish. Serve with a good French baguette (we like the ones made with local Red Fife flour).

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