Cod Poached in Olive Oil


by Heather Harris Brady

Fair warning – this recipe requires a substantial amount of olive oil. But if you opt to bake the fish in a loaf pan you can get away with using far less. Also, you can filter it and use it later for frying other fish.

This technique is something I have wanted to try for a while. It results in a supremely tender, mild fillet that would likely please many people. If mild isn’t your thing you’re going to want to tart it up with some sort of spicy sauce. Note that you need to start this well in advance as it requires time for brining.

Oil Poached Cod, Makes Four Generous Servings

  • One pound cod fillets, cleaned and deboned
  • 4 cups olive oil (more or less depending on your pan and cooking method – see below)
  • One large spring fresh thyme
  • 3 large lemons, sliced
  • 1/2 c. kosher salt
  • 2 c. water

First, brine the fish. Combine the water and salt in a bowl, stir until dissolved.


Submerge the fillets and refrigerate for about an hour.


Take the fish out of the brine and lay them directly onto a baking sheet. Put them back in the refrigerator for another half an hour to form the “pellicle” – the brine will dry and form a skin (the pellicle) on the fillets. This keeps the fish extra-moist as well as keeping it from absorbing the oil.


Pour the olive oil into your cooking pan. At this point you can use a saucepan like I did (on the stovetop) or heat the oven to 275 and use a baking dish. Add the thyme springs and bring the oil up to temperature. Then add the lemon slices and the fish.


Cook over low, low heat until the fillets turn opaque and flaky, about 15 minutes.


Drain well and serve with fresh steamed vegetables.


One year ago: Macarons, French Pastry Week


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