Fish loves citrus, so say hello to my Baked Cod Fish with Lemon and Capers! Easy to prepare, fast to bake, delicious to eat; isn’t that what great tasting recipes should be?
Cod fish was probably the number one source of seafood protein in our family home. Living in Newfoundland, in a small fishing village, in the 80s, made sure of that. Cod was in abundance back in those days, and we ate it whenever we were presented with the chance.
Correction: most people ate it whenever presented with the chance, but I was a little picky when it came to the preparation of fish. First of all, everyone who knows anything about seafood at all, knows that seafood and lemon are a match made in heaven. But, I can honestly say with 100% assurance that a fresh lemon was never brought into my mother’s kitchen. And, cooking cod with lemon was unheard of.
Fish dishes from my mother’s kitchen were basic and home style. Salted and dried cod was the fish of choice, and unfortunately, it was the only way I would not eat cod. I hated the texture of it; I hated the saltiness of it; and I hated that in most cases, the bones were still in it. Fisherman’s Brewis, not to be confused with Fish and Brewis, were often prepared by my mom or dad. Both dishes are a Newfoundland delicacy and consist of salted cod fish and Newfoundland hard bread.
Hard bread – let me explain: Hard bread, otherwise known as hardtack or hard tack, is a simple type of biscuit or cracker made from flour, water, and sometimes salt or sugar. Hardtack is inexpensive and long-lasting. It is used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages, land migrations, and military campaigns. There is a basic variety, which is much harder and not really consumed in its natural state. And, there’s a sweet variety, which can be broken and chewed more easily without soaking in water to reconstitute or re-hydrate.
Many, many, many times I would see my mom or dad put a few “cakes” of hard bread in a big bowl of cold water just before going to bed. Then, in another bowl of cold water, they would place a few fillets of salted, dried cod. I knew immediately what was going to be for lunch or dinner the next day. And, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy about it.
On the occasion when fresh cod was present, the meal changed from traditional Newfoundland cuisine to what might have been considered modern at that point in time. Fresh cod was never baked – not that I can remember. Usually, it was pan fried in a cast iron skillet with pork fatback. There was never a need for oil or butter, because fatback was the bomb! Fried cod with fatback that has been diced and fried until rendered and crunchy, (Newfoundlanders call this scrunchions) was the best way to eat cod.
Other than that, cod was lightly battered and deep fried with homemade fries. Personally, I think that was my favourite way to eat cod, probably because we got to eat fries with it! Now though, times have changed as well as my personal tastes. When I eat seafood now, which is very rare, I like to taste the actual fish. I’m not against the batter or the scrunchions, but nothing compares to a baked or broiled fish.
Baked Cod Fish with Lemon and Capers is a great recipe which allows the flavour of the fish to be the highlight of the dish. The lemon elevates the flavour of the cod, while the salty brine from the capers helps to enhance the natural seafood taste. With 5 minutes of preparation and 20 minutes to bake, there’s really no excuse to not have Baked Cod Fish with Lemon and Capers for dinner tonight!
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Baked Cod Fish with Lemon and Capers
- 2 fillets cod fish, about 4 ounces per fillet, try to get thick pieces rather than long and thin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup jarred capers, drained
- 2 whole lemons, slice one lemon into 1/4 inch slices, save the second for garnish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Lay down two rows of sliced lemon onto a baking dish. (I did mine in two separate baking dishes.) The rows should be long enough to allow the entire piece of fish to sit on top of it.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the fish and lay one fillet onto each row of sliced lemons.
- Sprinkle the capers over top of the fish.
- Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, thyme and oregano. Drizzle evenly over each fillet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.
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