Black cod is my favorite fish in the world. It is like a more delicate version of halibut. Do not think of black cod as cod. It is not a true cod fish at all. In fact, I wish they'd call it black something else, because I despise real cod.
When I was a kid in tube socks my family and I would go to the docks off I don't remember what town in Rhode Island, where the fishing boats arrived with their daily catch. The fishermen, covered in blood and guts, would call out, "Fresh cod! Fresh cod for sale!" And we would be the first in line. It was a weekly ritual. I remember having the best fish and chips of my life made from that cod.
Then one day, years after we stopped going to Road Island on the weekends, my mother bought cod from a local market in town. She got it home and opened the package to find tiny white worms squirming in the cod's white flesh. Don't ask me how she spotted them because they matched the fish perfectly, and they were as thin as dental floss. When we returned the cod to the monger he said that all cod has worms, and that they are harmless and unnoticeable when eaten. Not one of the Picchiones has eaten cod since.
Ingredients for Four
2 pounds black cod
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 good ripe tomatoes (if you cannot find them use a can of your favorite diced tomatoes)
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads (may seem like a lot, but that's the way I like it)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
To begin, rinse and pat dry the black cod fillets. Then slice the fillets into two to three inch square pieces and set aside.
Heat the oil over a medium flame in a large heavy pot that has a tight fitting lid. Saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. In the meantime, dice the tomatoes into half inch cubes and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, and add the saffron. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to form a sauce, but still hold most of their shape.
Raise the heat to medium-high and press the pieces of fish evenly among the tomatoes, spooning a little sauce over each. Cover the pot and poach the fish for eight to ten minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the fish, and garnish with the chervil. I usually serve this with brown rice and a salad.