Roasted codfish with Serrano ham and peppers

roasted fresh codfish

I am Portuguese and of Catholic extraction. Therefore, my Christmas dinner must be  boiled dry codfish, eggs, potatoes and kale, with plenty of olive oil with garlic. There is no way around it, I am afraid. It is been like this for centuries and everybody just keeps up with the tradition.

When I was a kiddie my Mother once tried to a bacalhau conventual [convent style codfish], just to try something new. When the dinner came to the table, an outcry of biblical proportions followed and Christmas was almost cancelled.  Everyone survived the trauma, but my Mother never a tried it again. After 3 decades my Father still mentions the infamous year we had baked codfish for dinner. Outrageous – after that, only anarchy could have descended to the civilized world.

This year, I staid in Zurich for Christmas. And when not in Rome … I almost made a point of departing from the usual traditions. Well, sort of… It is still codfish, but fresh. Not boiled, but  baked with Serrano ham. And, for a complete departure from the tradition, the recipe was found on a book meant for british dieters. But, please, I beg you, don’t let my family know about it. It will be our little secret.

Roasted codfish with Serrano ham and peppers (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

  • 1 red pepper deseeded and cut into thin stripes
  • 1 yellow pepper deseed and cut into thin stripes
  • 2 courgettes cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 medium red onion cut into thin wedges
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 thick skinless fresh codfish fillets (about 150g each. A big chunk will also work)
  • 4 slices of Serrano ham or any thinly sliced cured ham
  • 10g dry white breadcrumbs
  • 10g of parmesan cheesed finely grated
  • A handfull of parley leafs, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 220oC. Put the peppers, courgettes and onion in a large baking tray and drizzle them with olive oil. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper and toss everything until the vegetables are coated with olive oil. Roast for 20mun until softened and lightly charred.

2. Mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and parsley. Reserve.

3. Pat the codfish dry on kitchen paper and remove the bones with a pair of tweezers. Season with a generous amount of pepper. No need to add any salt – the Serrano ham has already plenty of salt on its own. Wrap the each fillet with a slice of ham, making sure they are closed.

4. Take the baking tray out of the oven and make space for the codfish and ham. A few gaps will be suffice. Place the fish on the tray and scatter the Parmesan mix all over the fish and vegetables. In case you worry about soaking the vegetables: the codfish will be sealed inside the Serrano ham and cook on its own juices.

5. Put the tray back in the over for another 12-15min or until the fish is cooked, the ham crisped and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

6. Serve immediately.

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