Recipe 39: Clay Pot Haddock with a Twist

Fish is a nice change of pace for those of us who have just come off of the Christmas feast.  This fish dish is a bit naughty as I have created a tartar sauce that I spread over the fish to flavour it as it bakes. Depending on the type of fish, it can be baked, grilled, steamed or pan fried. My favourite has always been grilled, but, seeing this is winter I have opted to use the oven and a clay pot to maintain the moisture.  If you are one for winter barbecuing then light it up and toss the fish on the grill. If grilling you will have to brush sauce carefully over fish during cooking time. The bread crumbs may be added indoors and the dish can be popped under the broiler to brown the top.

Clay pots have been used for centuries as a means of cooking. The technique has not really changed although some of the cooking vessels have.  Generally, an unglazed clay pot is submerged in water before cooking, then filled with food and placed into an oven with the walls of the pot helping to diffuse heat. The water that has soaked into the porous clay in return releases steam during the cooking process. The food inside the clay pot loses little moisture creating a tender, flavorful meal. The evaporation of the water prevents burning so long as the pot is not allowed to heat until it is completely dry.  The benefit of the clay pot is that no oil needs to be added and therefore may be lower in fat compared with food prepared by other methods that traditionally use fat to cook with.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb haddock fillets
1/2 tsp ground mustard
salt to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp paprika

Directions

Soak clay pot for 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towel. Arrange in clay pot.  In a small bowl whisk together all other ingredients except bread crumbs and paprika. Spread over fish and bake for 2o minutes. Remove clay pot lid, sprinkle bread crumbs over fish and cook for another 5 minutes or until top turns golden brown and fish flakes easily with fork. Remove from pot and serve with paprika as garnish.

Yields 6 servings

FOOTNOTE: Fish should have firm elastic flesh and NO smell. Always refrigerate fish until ready to use or if fish is fresh clean and freeze immediately if not using right away.

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