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How to make Swedish baked cod with browned butter

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How to make Swedish baked cod with browned butter
Baked cod with browned butter and veg. Photo: Swedish food
06:59 CET+01:00
Swedish food writer John Duxbury's recipe for baked cod with browned butter will make your January far more pleasant.

Cod is so often served with brown butter and freshly grated horseradish in Sweden that most fishmongers sell fresh horseradish. Usually the cod is gently poached in a flavoured stock, but this version is slightly easier to cook, especially for a large group.

Tips

– Leave grating horseradish until the last moment, as it discolours quickly. (If you can’t find fresh horseradish, use some hot horseradish sauce.)

– Use Norwegian skrei if you can. Skrei are migratory cod caught off the coast of Norway between January and April. They are powerful fish making their flesh exceptionally firm, white and supple.

– Use a digital thermometer when baking fish to avoid overcooking it.

– Steps 4 and 5 can be done an hour or two in advance if preferred.

– This cod dish goes really well with baked beetroot (see below), new potatoes and steamed asparagus, salsify or carrots.

Ingredients

1 tsp butter, softened

600 g (1¼ lb) cod loin, or another similar white fish

Salt

100 g (4 oz) streaky bacon, optional

200 g (1 cup) butter

2 tbsp capers

4 tbsp freshly grated horseradish

fresh dill

lemon wedges, optional

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC (350ºF, gas 4, fan 160ºC).

2. Lightly butter an ovenproof dish big enough to take the fish without packing them too tightly.

3. Cut the fish into 4 even-sized pieces, add them to the dish and then lightly season them with salt.

4. Optional step: cut the bacon into small pieces and fry them over a medium heat until nicely browned. Pat dry using kitchen paper and set aside.

5. Cut the butter into thin slices and brown it over a medium heat until it is a nice nutty brown colour, skimming off any scum.

6. Pour the browned butter over the fish and bake in the middle of the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the inner temperature of the fish is 53ºC (127ºF).

7. To serve: add a piece of fish to each plate, top with grated horseradish, pour over the browned butter and garnish with crispy bacon pieces (optional), capers, dill and seasonal vegetables.

Browning butter

The idea is that the butter is heated a little past its melting point, which results in the milk solids in the butter browning and creating a wonderful nutty aroma.

1. Heat a thick bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Add the butter cut into slices or cubes so that it heats evenly and all the butter melts at the same time.

2. Once the butter has melted whisk it frequently. It will produce quite a lot of white foam initially, but then the foam will begin to subside.

3. Continue whisking and heating the butter, but watching it carefully. Lightly browned specks will begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will give off a gorgeous nutty aroma.

4. Once the butter is a rich golden colour and has a nice nutty aroma, remove the butter from the heat to stop it from cooking any more. Skim off any scum and when required pour it carefully over and around the fish, leaving the speckly brown bits in the saucepan.

Baked beetroot

This is a fantastic way of cooking beetroot and it goes really well with cod and other meaty white fish. Be sure to drizzle plenty of the juice over the beetroot when you serve them! (Any leftovers can be served cold the next day.)

450 g (1 lb) uncooked beetroot

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

5 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas 6, fan 180°C).

2. Rinse the beetroot, top and tail, peel and cut into 2 cm (1") long wedges. Add them to a roast tray and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Lightly squash the unpeeled garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add to the tray.

4. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and oil olive and give the pan a good shake to ensure the beetroot are evenly coated in the oil and vinegar.

5. Cover with foil and roast in the preheated oven for 1-1¼ hours, until tender but still with a bit of "bite". Keep the beetroot warm until required. 

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.

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