It is a fact that when people think of Provençale cuisine, they often have fish in mind. After all bouillabaisse is from Marseille, salad niçoise includes tuna and anchovies, as does the sandwich pain bagnat. With the Mediterranean right on our door step good, fresh fish is as abundant as it is in New England. Every market will have at least one or two fish vendors, Sanary has about 10. In la Seyne there is a man who sets up along side the boat-taxis to Toulon and sells the days catch right off his little boat.
In my last entry, I talked about Pastis. Whether you live in the mountains of the Luberon or by the coast, it is the official drink of Provence. But its strong taste and even stronger alcohol content might not be to everyone’s taste.
There are other ways to enjoy pastis however, and one of those, of course is to cook with it.
Though cod or cabillaud, is a fish not native to the Mediterranean, it’s soft, subtle and salty flavor is one that fits well with the licorice taste of pastis.
Marinate your fish for just a few hours in a mixture of pastis and olive oil, some garlic and pepper and you have a perfect dish.
I like to cook my fish en papillote, wrapped in cooking paper and baked for no more than 15 minutes. Any longer and you’ll have something rubbery and tasteless. But my mother-in-law recently gave me two plastic “papillote” containers that can be washed and reused, and I finally got to use them for my cabillaud aux pastis.
I added some onions and served a few roasted fingerling potatoes and green beans on the side.
A word to the wise: I cooked my fish in the pastis sauce even after its marinade. This made the flavor of the pastis almost overwhelming. Instead, I suggest drizzling just a tiny bit of the marinade over the fish before it’s baked. That way the fish stays moist but the flavor of the pastis doesn’t drown out the flavor of the fish.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the top when you’re plating. No more than a teaspoon will also moderate the flavor of the pastis and bring out the flavor of the fish.
This can also be grilled, though with such a high alcohol content, you might want to take care you don’t set your fish aflame
But what to drink with it? I recommend NOT drinking pastis. Instead, you’ll want something dry, like a light white wine or rosé.
So there you have it. Pastis; the drink, the cooking aid, the tart pleasures of a summer in Provence.
Pastis Marinated Cod
- 2 filet of cod
- 1/3 cup pastis
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- half a red onion, sliced
Wash off the cod. In a large bowl combine pastis, olive oil, garlic, and pepper. You may not need all the pastis or olive oil, you want just enough to cover the fish. Let it marinate for about 2 hours in the fridge.
When ready, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Slice onion. Put the fish in cooking paper, top with onions and drizzle with the marinade. A tablespoon should do it.
Cook for 15 minutes. Some sites recommend 20, but I’ve found that the fish overcooks then.
Plate, drizzle with 1/2 tsp or a tsp of olive oil. Serve with roasted potatoes, green salads, asparagus, green beans. Any spring vegetables you desire.