Living on the coast as true New Englanders, we have a strong affinity for fresh white fish, like cod, hake, haddock or pollock. We are lucky to be able to buy thick loin cuts from local, quality fishmongers.
Our Italian ancestors would “roll over in their graves” to see this fish paired with Manchego cheese, a Spanish sheep’s milk. Pairing cheese with fish or shellfish is taboo in Italian cooking, but we tend to disagree in some instances – this dish being one of them.
The Panko crumbs mixed with herbs and Manchego cheese provide a textured herbaceous salinity that punches up the mild, meaty, sweet flavors of cod. This dish speaks to how the quality and simplicity of ingredients can make food taste memorable. The late Anthony Bourdain may have said it best: “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”
Manchego and herb-crusted cod
- 2 lbs cod (loin cut)
- 1 cup panko crumbs (optional to use gluten-free panko crumbs)
- 1 cup grated Manchego cheese
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika or your favorite fish seasoning
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ Tbsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. cracked black peppercorn
- 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, mix the panko crumbs, Manchego cheese,parsley, black pepper and ¼ cup of olive oil. Reserve to top cod.
- Add kosher salt and paprika to one side of cod loin.
- Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to the bottom of a baking sheet pan or an oven-proof sauté pan, and place cod on top of oil.
- Sprinkle panko crumb mix over the cod loin, covering the fish with a layer of crumbs (it’s fine if some crumbs fall over the side).
- Cut a lemon in half and lay both sides flesh side down in the pan, next to the fish.
- Place cod in middle rack of oven.
- Check fish after about 10-12 minutes. It should be opaque and somewhat flaky, and a thermometer should reach 135°F. The crust should be golden brown (if it isn’t, put cod under the broil setting of your oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute). Note: How long you cook the fish depends on the thickness. As a general guide, a 1" thick loin should cook for 10 minutes at 400°F. We like cooking fish at a lower heat because slower cooking results in a meatier texture and juicy finish.
- Take the cod out of the oven and let it finish cooking in the pan. (Fish and meat continue to cook when you take them out of the oven.) Rest for about 4 minutes before serving.
- Use a spatula to plate fish. Serve with the roasted lemons or squeeze the juice from the roasted lemons over the fish. It provides a more caramelized and slightly sweet lemon flavor to the dish.