I love the cuisine of Spain. Spanish cooking has its roots in Morocco, and thanks to the roving Spaniards who came to the New World to find riches, elements of this way of cooking have found their way all over the Americas. From Chile, to Mexico, to the Caribbean, to Florida, and points North, you can find the influence of classic Spanish cuisine. Bacalao, or salt cod, is a staple of this fare, and this is what I first made this dish with, but for the purposes of a cancer survivor or caretaker, the long soaking time that salt cod needs is what turns what is a quick dish into a time-consuming one. Luckily fresh cod, though milder in taste, works just as well in this hearty Cod with Chickpeas & Peppers dish. Spanish chorizo is generally nitrite free, but if you don’t want to use anything so meaty, see Ann’s Tips for a perfect pescatarian solution.
- Pat fish dry and rub with ground cumin. Place in a large bowl with ½ of the lemon juice. Mix well and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Dissolve the saffron threads in ¼ cup boiling water, set aside
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds let them sizzle for a few minutes until they become fragrant, then add the garlic and cook until it starts to color. Add the chorizo, onions, peppers and bay leaves. Sauté until they start to soften. Sprinkle with salt, cover and lower the heat to medium-low. Sweat for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft, and the onions are a pale gold.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the tomatoes and diluted saffron. Cook until the tomatoes have lost most of their liquid. Add the chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 5-8 minutes.
- Lay the fish on top of the vegetables. Cover. Bring to a boil then cook at a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining lemon juice. Cook 2 minutes more, turn off the heat and leave fish to steam for 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.
- 2½ pound cod fillet, cut into 6 pieces
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Juice of 1 lemon, divided
- Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
- 3 ounce piece of chorizo, diced or 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (see Ann’s tips)
- 1 large Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 red peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 ripe tomatoes, diced or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Ann's Tips and Tricks
If you don’t want to use chorizo, you can use smoked paprika instead. Here’s how: at the end of step 3, sprinkle the vegetables with the smoked paprika and cook for 1 minute over a medium high heat before adding the tomatoes.
When buying cod filet, ask the fishmonger to cut your buy from the thicker head end of the fillet so that the fish is of even thickness and cooks evenly. You can ask him to cut it into 6 pieces for you too.
Saffron has to be hand harvested and as a result, both the threads and powder are very expensive. It gives wonderful flavor to fish stews like this one, so if you can spring for it, do so, knowing that a little goes a long way.