Sicilian cooking is known for fresh vegetables, seafood and… raisins? The island off the boot of Italy has been influenced by myriad cultures that have passed through over the millennia, including Greek, French and Arab cultures. The use of dried fruits in savory and sweet dishes alike is a remnant of Arab rule on the island in the 10th and 11th centuries. Here, we plump raisins in a classic cod stew for balancing bursts of sweetness with the rich saltiness of the sea.
- 1 organic lemon
- 1 organic yellow onion
- 2 wild cold fillets (about 6 ounces each)
- 1 organic sweet potato
- 1 or 2 cloves fresh organic peeled garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 4 or 5 sprigs fresh organic flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon golden raisins
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- White wine, optional
- Garlic pres or fine-toothed grater (optional)
- Fine-mesh strainer; medium heatproof bowl
- Medium sauce pot with a lid
- Large frying pan with a lid
1. Poach the cod.
Using a peeler, remove zest from the lemon in wide strips, being careful to remove only the outermost yellow layer and leave behind the bitter white pith. Juice half the lemon; set aside for finishing the dish. Cut the remaining half into wedges for garnish.
Peel and thinly slice the onion. Set aside ¾ of the onion for the stew. In a medium sauce pot, cover the cod with 1 inch of water, at least 1½ cups. Add the lemon zest and ¼ of the onion. Bring to a boil, reduce to a vigorous simmer, cover and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until the cod starts turning opaque but is not yet cooked through. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the cod to a plate. Strain the poaching liquid into a medium heatproof bowl.
While the water heats and the cod cooks, prepare the vegetables.
2. Prep the vegetables; start the stew
Scrub or peel the sweet potato. Trim the ends and cut the potato in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices, then slice crosswise into ¼-inch cubes. Finely chop, press or grate enough garlic to measure 1 teaspoon.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sweet potato, season with salt and pepper and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften. Add the remaining onion, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add ¼ cup of white wine, if using, and cook until thickened slightly for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1½ cups of cod poaching liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes until the flavors come together and the vegetables are just tender. While the stew simmers, prepare the parsley.
3. Prep the parsley; finish the stew.
Strip the parsley leaves from the stems; coarsely chop the leaves. Set aside half for garnish. Add the cod, raisins and half the parsley to the pan with the stew. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat until the cod is cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the cod and stew to individual bowls. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve with the lemon wedges.
- Juice the lemon.
- Press the garlic.
- Measure the garlic.
- Strip the parsley leaves.