Valentine’s Salted Cod ‘Red and Green’ – Contramar style

Today we’d like to share Valentine’s wonderful Salted Arctic Cod recipe with roasted chipotle sauce on one side and fresh green coriander the other. With the recipe first encountered in Mexico, Val simply blowed our minds with this thrilling combination of exotic Contramar style and our elemental and wild larder here in our ‘Arctic Cafe’ (as he likes to call Holmen’s kitchen).

Arctic Cod – Skrei – is the migrating cod that comes from the Barents Sea to the coast of Northern Norway to spawn every year. The Skreis’ long journey give them firmer flesh than regular cod, and the white, mild fish meat is so tender that it turns into flakes if you poke it gently with a fork.

Val’s Salted Cod ‘Red and Green’ Contramar style

I first encountered this amazing treatment with a large snapper in Mexico City. My friend knew it would blow me away and it did. (I would also add that Contramar, the restaurant in which I ate this, is the finest fish restaurant I know of. It was one of the most memorable lunches of my life and subsequently returned every day over a week and ate the whole menu a few times over.)

For the sake of ease, I recommend using just the fillets from the fish. Even better, tell the fishmonger that you want the fish ‘kippered’ (filleted with the head split but left on and the fillets connected at the belly. You will also need a griddle plate.

Here is an easy version which will still delivers much joy.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 kg Arctic Cod, filleted or better – still ‘kippered’ 
2-3 teaspoons sunflower oil
Flaked sea salt
Lime wedges, to serve

Red sauce
2 tinned whole plum tomatoes drained of juice
1 tbls tomato puree
2 chipotle chillies
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
¼  teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cumin seeds,
¼  small star anise
2 cloves 
juice of ½ an orange
½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
½ tablespoon sunflower oil
½ tbls dark muscovado sugar

Green sauce
½ sweet white onion
1 fresh jalapeño or equivalent size small green chile
35g small bunch of fresh coriander, stems and leaves 
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp of flaked sea salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

– Season the flesh  side of the fish fillets or butterflied whole fish with 2 tbls of flaked sea salt and leave it for an hour while you attend to the sauces.

Red sauce
– Flop  the tomatoes with the puree into high powered blender 
– If the chipotle chillies are whole, finely chop them first. Add this to the tomatoes along with the garlic cloves, oregano, cumin seeds, star anise, cloves, orange juice and sea salt. Blitz hard until all the ingredients are well blended and the sauce is as  smooth as you can get. 
– Heat a small frying pan and add the oil. When it is almost smoking, pour in the tomato and chipotle mixture and simmer furiously to reduce the liquid, evaporating most of the water from  the sauce. This should take 2-3 minutes. Shake the pan a few times to prevent the sauce from sticking. 
– Stir in ½  tbls of muscovado sugar. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Green sauce
– Wash the coriander to remove any dirt from the stalks and trim only the very ends. Put the leaves and stalks in the food processor with the jalapeño /green chile, and salt.
– Blitz hard until the mixture is almost smooth – you may need to remove the lid and push the sauce down with a rubber spatula a couple of times until the right consistency is reached.
– Turn out the sauce into a small bowl and stir in the oil. Just before using, very finely dice the sweet onion and stir into the sauce and follow with the lime, sharpening the sauce but not making it too sour.
Note: If you add the lime too early  and then leave the sauce for too long before using  it will discolour.

– Preheat the grill to full power
– Brush the fish free of salt and wipe off any excess water
– Lay the fish skin side down on a tray having wiped the skin dry and scattered the tray with flaked sea salt. Spoon the red sauce generously all over one of the fillets, spreading it to the sides.
– With the second fillet just brush the flesh lightly with sunflower oil.
– Place fish under the grill relatively close to the element and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until the fish is just cooked but chipotle sauce has begun to char in places.
– Spoon the green sauce over the bare fish fillet.

Garnish and serve with corn tortillas and raw shredded cabbage dressed with lime or simply with boiled potatoes or fries.