Atlantic Cod – A New England Tradition

Cod played an important role in the history of New England. Native American indians new of this valuable resource and it was a vitally important part of their diet. Evidence of this can be found in middens (old dump for domestic waste). It was believed that in 1621 while the pilgrims where starving, the native indians believing they would “receive blessings” showed the pilgrims how to catch cod and use the uneaten parts for fertilizer. The indians also introduced the pilgrims to quahogs, steamers, and lobster which they eventually ate out of desperation. Some say because of this introduction of cod to the pilgrims it opened up negotiations with the indians which eventually led to our modern day Thanksgiving.
So, here I am today thinking about how I could best prepare cod that would be traditional and delicious. I met with Chef Brendan Vesey of The Joinery in Newmarket, NH this past week and interviewed him about how he likes to cook cod. He gave me some great ideas. Anywhere from baking to pan frying. When I asked about kid friendly dishes he said “fish sticks are a good way to go” and I agree! He also suggested corn and potatoes make good side dishes with cod. 
We decided to go with a traditional New England recipe and bake our NH Community Seafood Cod.  My mom made a homemade creamed corn sourced from Baker’s Farm in Stratham, NH for a side dish. My dad made his own homemade tarter sauce using Little River Pantry’s Sweet Zucchini Relish. I must tell you, this so far has been my favorite meal! There really is something to be said for tradition especially if you’re  a New Englander.
“Baked Cod with Creamed Corn Side Dish”
For the Cod
3 Medium Size Cod Fillets from NH Community Seafood
1/2 Cup of Milk 
2 Sleeves of Ritz Crackers
1/2 Stick of Butter
1 tsp of Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp Dried Parsley Flakes
Salt and Pepper
For the Creamed Corn
8 ears of fresh local sweet corn still in husk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 tbs salted butter
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
Start by soaking your cod in milk. Place the cod in a clean ziploc bag and pour in the milk. Put back in refrigerator and let sit while you make the creamed corn.
Preheat oven to 350
In a large deep sided bowel, cut all the corn away from the cob.
Add the cream, salt, pepper and butter…
Mix together and put in a casserole dish and bake for 30-40 minutes. Don’t over cook or the cream could snap!
This is what you end up with…. creamy, delicious corn that is still crunchy too… After you have cooked the corn, cover it with foil and set aside. 
Now let’s make some baked cod! Lightly butter a large baking pan.
Set that aside and make your Ritz crumb topping. Here is a cool hint my mom taught me. Mash up the crackers while they are still in the sleeves. This way the crumbs won’t fly all over and you just pour it out in to the bowl when you are done. Add 3 – 4 Tablespoons of butter to crackers, seasoning, parsley and salt and pepper to taste (I leave the salt out). Set that aside to be used in a few minutes.
Place Cod filets in buttered baking dish and salt and pepper if you choose to do this. I don’t because I have to watch my salt intake for my kidney disease. Also, add a few pats of butter to the top of each filet. Can you guess which filet is mine????
Now top with your Ritz Crumbs and bake for 20 minutes (if large filets like these) Adjust time for smaller filets.
Take out of the oven and serve on a plate with your creamed corn! It’s homey, it’s traditional, it’s New England!

Tomatoes and Fish?

Friday evening my mom and I went to Stout Oak Farm in Brentwood, NH for their Annual Heirloom Tomato Tasting and if anyone knows me, knows I love tomatoes! Not just a couple varieties, but all of them. We sampled over 20 different kinds of tomatoes yesterday and voted for our favorite. I picked the Sweet Red 101 and so did my mom.

After tasting everything, I thought about what would go good with the redfish we got from our NH Community Seafood Share were having tonight. I talked with sous chef Keith that works at Blue Moon Evolution in Exeter and asked his opinion on what would be a good choice of tomatoes to go with my fish tonight. He suggested some sweet and some with some acidity. With that in info in hand we choose the green tigers, sweet 101s, sun golds and Matt’s Wild Tomatoes. We also grabbed some organic scallions, zucchini and summer squash to toss in the mix too.
I wasn’t so sure that tomatoes were going to go well with the redfish but, what the heck you’re only a kid once! It ended up tasting amazing! The recipe my mom and I came up with was so easy and simple and cleaning was just a matter of throwing away the foil and washing the baking sheet. I hope you enjoy this recipe and yes, tomatoes do, without a doubt do go with fish!
Jayden – The Kid Fish Monger
PS.. Thanks to Kate and all the helpers at Stout Oak Farm for an awesome tomato tasting and the ingredients that we used in our Redfish and Tomato Recipe
Baked Redfish and Tomatoes
3-4 Redfish Fillets Per Person (or more if they are small)
Tomatoes (We used the cherry tomato varieties)
1 Small Organic Zucchini Sliced Thin
1 Small Organic Summer Squash Sliced Thin
1 Bunch Organic Scallions Minced (keep the end of the Scallion green part to put in foil pack)
Fresh Sprigs of Thyme
Fresh Sprigs of Rosemary
Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees
Make 4 Foil Packs
Lay 1st foil pack out and run a small strip of butter down the middle
 Place Redfish skin side down on top of butter and salt and pepper the fish
Arrange all the veggies and herbs around the fish
Salt and Pepper the Veggies and drizzle a little olive oil over the top
Fold the Packets up and Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through
Remove from oven – open carefully it will be hot and steamy – look how moist and tender it is!
 Arrange on plate and enjoy!

Acadian Redfish: It’s not just for lobster bait anymore…

Even though this fish looks pretty derpy (kid talk for awkward and unusual) with it’s big eyes and red scales, it is one of our seacoasts sustainable fish, although that wasn’t that case not so long ago.  In the 1950’s redfish was heavily fished and the population plummeted. Redfish couldn’t withstand the heavy fishing due to their slow growth and reproductive rates. Measures were implemented to allow the redfish population to rebuild. They also set restrictions on the type of fishing gear used and minimum size (9 inches is a keeper).

Thanks to these measures, and the sacrifices of fishermen, the populations rebounded. According to one study in 2010, only 22% of the total allowable catch for redfish was harvested however, most of that was used as lobster bait.

Today NH Community Seafood is raising awareness of edible, sustainable Redfish also known as ocean perch. It can be harvested year round. A lean fish, it is flaky and moist. Prepare this as you would a snapper and for the love of fish, let’s keep it on the plate and not as lobster bait!

Anchors Aweigh,

Jayden , The Kid Fish Monger