A plate full of colour

I closed yesterday’s post by writing that our shopping trip to Bergerac on Saturday included a visit to a supermarket, where we bought veal shanks (for my rather tasty osso buco) and a variety of seafood.

So I spent yesterday (Sunday) morning in the kitchen, preparing the osso buco first, because it’s best if it can rest in the refrigerator overnight and then be reheated. (Guess what we had for lunch today?) Then I turned my attention to the seafood, and wound up with a dish that I think is worth sharing.

I had seen the dish being prepared on a Food Channel show, and thought it looked good (it’s not complicated, so I wasn’t following any written instructions). Essentially, it’s a  white fish covered in a tomato sauce, topped with shrimp and mussels, and then baked. Because the sauce is relatively simple, it has a nice fresh taste that goes well with the seafood, and makes for a dish that’s both colourful and surprisingly light. Here’s how it’s made, and how it turned out:

First I finely chopped a yellow onion, and sautéed it in some olive oil until it was soft. Then I added a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic, and cooked the mixture a few minutes more (I’m always careful with garlic, because it burns so easily). Then I added a small can of chopped tomatoes with the juice, a glass of dry white wine, some salt and pepper, and a good shake of dried tarragon, because the licorice-like flavour of tarragon goes well with fish. I cooked this for several minutes, but didn’t let it thicken too much.

We had bought a nice piece of cod that was large enough for the two of us to share, so I put that in a glass dish that I’d brushed with some olive oil, and seasoned the cod with salt and pepper. Then I poured the sauce all over the cod, and graced the top of the sauce-covered fish with scrubbed mussels and a number of large shrimp. (For the shrimp, I cut off the heads and “deveined” them, but kept the shells on.) Here’s the dish, all set to go into the oven, which I had preheated to 175 degrees Celsius, or 350 Fahrenheit:

Seafood

Cod, shrimp and mussels with sauce, ready for the oven.

While this was in the oven, I opened up a bottle of wine to enjoy with Sunday lunch. At the supermarket in Bergerac, we had decided that a good rosé would go well with the seafood dish, and so we bought this one from the Tavel region, which lies south of Avignon. Easy choice, since I’ve never met a Tavel rosé I didn’t like:

Wine

I've never been disappointed with a Tavel rosé.

Then, after 30 minutes of baking, it was time to take out the seafood. And here it is:

Cooked

Just out of the oven, and ready to be served up.

To accompany the seafood, my wife Jan had made saffron rice. So each of us had a nice piece of (perfectly cooked) cod, plus several shrimp and several mussels, with the sauce and rice. Here’s how it all looked when served up:

Serving

Bright colours, and amazingly bright flavours.

The verdict? This is a definite hit — easy to make, fun to eat, and good to look at. I used my fingers to shell the shrimp, so it was a bit of a mess; but that’s what napkins are for. Next time I think I’ll try a splash of Pernod in the sauce, and I’ll split the shells of the shrimp along the back, to make them easier to peel off. But on the whole, this is a winner.

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