Garam Masala-Crusted Cod with South-Indian Vegetables

In another guest post, my wife Melissa writes about a new favorite dish.

We watch a lot of food television at home. Sometimes I will see a dish that looks delicious but is a little complicated to make, so I try to streamline it to be made more quickly on a weeknight.

This dish is inspired by my favorite Cooking Channel personality, Bal Arneson. She uses sablefish, but it can be made with any kind of firm white fish, and I like to use cod. The combination of garam masala crust on the fish with the complimentary spices on the veggies makes for a tasty and complex flavor. The poached egg on top gives it height and creates a plate that looks and tastes like it could be served at a restaurant.

In her recipe, Bal adds some flourishes like deep-frying the poached eggs in a panko crust and making her own clarified butter. Maybe one day I will try that, but for now this works just as well for me.

Garam Masala-Crusted Cod with South-Indian Style Vegetables

2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil, divided
1 tablespoon ghee (or another tablespoon oil)
1/4 pound string beans
A handful of wild mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
4-5 curry leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 pound cod or other firm white fish, in 2 fillets
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 eggs

1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. When it boils, reduce it to a gentle simmer.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add the ghee with a tablespoon of neutral oil. Add the string beans and sliced mushrooms and let those brown a bit. Then add the corn, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and crumbled curry leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Stir the mixture periodically until the vegetables are cooked.

3. Combine the garam masala with a bit of salt, and coat one side of the fish with the mixture. Heat a small nonstick pan with a bit of neutral oil and place the fish in the pan, garam masala side down. Cook until crispy, about four minutes. Flip and cook for another four minutes or so, until the fish is nicely browned on the top and bottom.

4. Add vinegar to the simmering pot of water. Crack an egg into a small bowl and slide it carefully into the water, and repeat with the other egg. Let the eggs cook 2-3 minutes so that the whites are firm and the insides are still a bit runny. You can use a slotted spoon to encourage the eggs to take shape, and use this same spoon to remove the eggs when they are finished. When the eggs are done, rinse them gently with warm water and pat them dry on paper towels.

5. Once the eggs are done you are ready to plate. Spoon the vegetables onto two plates. Place the fish atop the vegetables and top each plate with a poached egg. And voila! A beautiful weeknight dinner that is good enough for company.

Total time: 40 minutes
Makes 2 servings

Adapted from Bal Arneson’s Garam Masala Crusted Sablefish.

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