'Tis the season for ham, turkey, and other fowl to grace the crowning point of the holiday dinner table. Consider sharing that coveted space--where you place your ham, your turkey, your duck--with sustainable seafood. These days, if you invite guests to your home for holiday meals, there is often someone in the bunch who doesn't eat pork, beef, or poultry but will eat fish if it's served.
Pescetarians, like myself, are deciding which varieties of seafood to add to the holiday table to delight and nourish family and friends. I love to invite guests over to dine for a holiday on which meat or poultry are typically served, and then serve them seafood or a completely vegan meal, as I did on Thanksgiving, 2012. My experience is that guests appreciate a fresh interpretation of a holiday meal or meal course. If you decide to include seafood among your holiday recipes, I heartily suggest adding Wild Alaskan Pacific cod.
Wild Alaskan Pacific cod is a best choice seafood according to Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Organization, which rates seafood according to species health, availability, habitat preservation, and ocean-safe methods for catching or capturing the seafood. Atlantic cod from Norway and the northeast Arctic, near Norway and Russia, are "best choice" options as well, according to Seafood Watch. The Seafood Watch Organization advises consumers to avoid imported wild cod as well as cod from the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic as there are concerns about how the fish are caught or about the health of the fishes' health or habitat. However, cod caught by hook and line from the Gulf of Maine is considered a "good alternative" to "best choice" cod.
When shopping, look for the Marine Stewardship Council logo on packages of frozen cod or placed near fresh cod in the fish case. This label ensures that the fishery that brought your fish to the supermarket or fishmonger is part of the Council's certification program for sustainable seafood.
So consider including sustainable fish such as cod on your holiday table for a meal or meal course. This simple recipe won't be time consuming to prepare and would provide an additional entree for your family and guests during your holiday meals. Celebrate seafood this holiday season!
Recipe: Simple Baked Cod and Steamed Spinach (Serves 6)
Ingredients for Cod
2 1/4 pounds fresh or frozen cod (6 ounces per person)
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lemons (juice one and slice the other in 1/4-inch wedges for garnish)
Ingredients for Spinach
21/2 cups baby spinach, cleaned and rinsed (leave stems on if desired)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
Salt to taste (optional)
Cracked white pepper to taste
- Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thaw cod (if frozen) according to package directions. Press paper towels lightly against fillets to absorb extra water after thawing.
- Place cod on cutting board that you use only for meats or seafood and salt and pepper each side of the fish fillets.
- Spray non-stick cooking spray into a shallow baking dish that is large enough to accommodate the cod fillets without crowding the fish. There should be at least 1/2 inch between each fillet. Use two baking dishes rather than crowd the the fish.
- Drizzle olive oil over each fillet and place the pan or pans in the oven.
- Bake the cod for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush on lemon juice. Reserve one or two lemon wedges for each fillet served.
- Place spinach in 9-quart pan or large braising pan over the stove burner.
- Pour the vegetable broth over the spinach.
- Set the burner to medium-low heat and steam the spinach until wilted but still bright green.
- Season with cracked pepper to taste and add a bit of salt to taste if needed (although the vegetable broth has also given flavor to the spinach).
- Place a 1/2-cup mound of spinach on the middle of a dinner plate.
- Set the baked cod carefully on top.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and serve very warm.