Food Matters Project #10: Cod in Spicy Rhubarb Sauce

Another Food Matters Project recipe.  This week’s recipe was chosen by Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  She had chosen Mark Bittman’s Fish Nuggets Braised in Rhubarb Sauce.  You can find the original recipe in The Food Matters Cookbook, other interpretations of this recipe can be found in the comments section in this blog post.

It seems that rhubarb was difficult to find for some of us trying out this dish.  I hadn’t seen fresh rhubarb in the store for the last month or so, all of a sudden it had disappeared.  Fortunately, Whole Foods had frozen rhubarb which I snagged for this recipe.

We had never caramelized sugar and used it as a base for fish sauce, and since we were unsure of the outcome, we stuck to the recipe.  Although, we’ll admit that this was not our favorite Mark Bittman dish.  I’ve made some notes, so please read it before trying this out.

Cod in Spicy Rhubarb Sauce
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (pg. 454)

We had followed the recipe, and the one thing that has thrown us off was the amount of pepper which it called for.  If you were to make it again, our suggestion would be to halve the amount of pepper.  In addition, we’d add some garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper to the sauce.  This would give it more depth, and taste.  If you don’t have cod, other fish that would hold up well are: halibut, tuna steaks or tilapia. 

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 lb rhubarb, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
5 Thai chilies (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
juice of 2 limes
3/4 lb cod, defrosted/fresh
2 tbsp green onions, chopped

Add sugar and 1/4 cup of water to a large skillet heated over medium heat.  Stir every once in a while, while the sugar dissolves, then bubbles and darkens- about 10 minutes.  Then turn off the heat, and stir in another 1/4 cup of water.  Again, turn on the heat and stir the sauce until the caramel dissolves and thickens.

Then, add the rhubarb, onion and chiles.  Cook the vegetables for 10 minutes, until they are soft and the sauce begins to melt.  Mix together the salt, pepper and lime juice, then pour into the pan.  Stir well, and then add the fish.  Cover the skillet and allow the fish to cook until it is done.

We served this with some rice and garnished with green onions.

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9 responses to “Food Matters Project #10: Cod in Spicy Rhubarb Sauce

  1. Great notes on the recipe. It is always good to know what worked and what didn’t. I hate wasting ingredients.

  2. This wasn’t my favorite Bittman recipe either, but I used apricot jam and added some other ingredients to the sauce. I thought it was just okay, but my husband enjoyed it. Your notes look great–thanks!

    • Apricot Jam would have been good in this- more flavor/depth to the sauce. I love rhubarb, but this just didn’t do it for me. Maybe if we tinkered more with the recipe. I did like how light it was- I hate heavy-tasting fish.

  3. What an interesting idea. It would never occur to me to add rhubarb to something like this. I would love to hear if you find a way to make it work more to your liking. Even Bittman (gasp) gets it wrong every now and again. xo

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