The popular Cod Fillet recipe is baked. For tonight, why not live a little and check out this fish dish packed with flavours that even if you are not a fan of fish, this recipe might change your mind. So quick and easy, in 20 mins dinner is ready!
There is nothing much to do except mop around or think about food, thanks to this pandemic and the polar vortex! We got the double whammy, nice! So one time I was absently scrolling through my Facebook feed. I saw a post of food, one of the many. As I said, food was probably the only past time in these crazy times. A week or so after, I saw the same food posted, by a different friend. She even made the effort for the food presentation.
And that is my Pan Simmered Cod Fillet recipe inspiration. I know it is not sexy, I mean many fish recipes aren’t. White fish is also relatively tasteless so I understand why many are not raving fans. But maybe give it a try. After all, fish is a lower calorie diet and cod is a highly nutritious food. It has lean proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
I have Cod fillets in the freezer along with a thousand other things. I am ready for the zombie apocalypse, that is a family inside joke and a story for another day. But I was pandemic-ready and that’s what matters! When everyone was panicking because of the toilet paper shortage; I was watching Netflix. I am good!
Back to fishy stories. I grew up in a tropical country with lots of sea and ocean around us (the Philippines) so I love my seafood. Fried fish is staple – you get it in the market fresh so why not? If we go to fishing towns, we can even get them alive! Then I moved to a landlocked temperate country. Fish and other seafood come frozen (and probably not the top pick) so I usually give a pass on fish here.
Simmered White Fish
This dish is actually a simplified version of sakana no nitsuke. It is a Japanese rustic dish that means – fish (sakana) simmered in a sauce (nitsuke). The recipe uses a white fish – Flounder, Rockfish or Cod. Sea Bass and Mackerel also works. The sauce is typically a mixture of Sake, Mirin (or Rice Vinegar) and Soy Sauce (and maybe Sugar depending on the balance of the flavours). Ginger is usually added to fish dishes to get rid of, or at least tone down the fishy odor.
The fish is simmered in the sauce mixture. In Japanese recipes, they may call for a drop lid (otoshibuta) – or a lid usually made of wood that is put on top of the fish/ingredients holding them in place. It also helps cook the dish evenly and apparently, the fish absorbs the sauce flavour better.
As you noticed, I skipped that in this recipe. However, if you have a drop lid or you fancy using one, by all means. I try to make these recipes simpler and easier to replicate.
Quick and Easy Cod Fillet Recipe
Pan Simmered Cod Ingredients
For the protein, you need a pound or up to a pound and a half of Cod Fillet. As mentioned other white fish also works.
Handling of the Cod Fillets
Cod fillets are delicate and will easily fall apart especially after they are cooked. I skipped this step in this Cod Fillet Recipe as my fillets I had were very thin. But if you prefer your fish to have a firmer texture, you can brine them before cooking. Soak the fillets for 15-20 minutes in water with salt and ice (one liter of water + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 2 cups ice).
Another option is to pour hot water over the fish. They will cook slightly. Remove the water and soak them, this time in cold water – with ice if possible for a few minutes. Remove the water and they are ready.
For the Sauce
This recipe needs Sake, Rice Vinegar, Vegetable Oil, Soy Sauce and freshly grated Ginger. For options for substitution: If you don’t have sake, you can substitute with dry sherry or Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine. If you want to skip the booze all together, grape juice works (ratio is 1:3 to substitute). If you have Mirin instead of Rice Vinegar, that will do. Although Mirin is sweeter while Rice Vinegar has this sour tanginess flavour.
For the vegetable oil, you can substitute another neutral oil like Canola. If you have Grapeseed oil, that works too. If in a pinch, Peanut or Sunflower oil will do, even if they have a much stronger flavour. Use any brand of soy sauce that you have as you are probably more familiar with that brand/kind anyway. Some Japanese recipe actually specifies Tamari. I don’t have access to it so I just use my soy sauce in my kitchen.
How to Cook Cod Fillet
Cooking is straightforward and easy. In a saute pan, mix everything together except the fish. In medium heat, bring to a simmer. If it starts to boil rapidly in medium heat, then as soon as it does, lower down the heat. It should be a gentle simmer for a minute or two to allow the flavours to come together.
Carefully lay the fish on the pan. For skin-on Cod fillets, the skin side should be down the side of the pan. If you haven’t lowered the heat when the sauce was simmering initially, lower the heat before you put in the fish.
For thicker fillets, get a spoon and baste it over the fish for 30 seconds to a minute or until the flakes start to separate. I didn’t do it in mine as my fillets were very thin and just the simmering sauce was covering the fillets.
Simmer the fish fillet in the sauce for 3-6 minutes depending on thickness. Thicker fillets of about an inch cooks in 5-6 minutes while the thinner ones cook for less than that.
Take out the fish carefully. They are more delicate cooked as the flakes are separating. Transfer to a serving dish. Then to reduce the sauce, allow it to simmer for another minute or two. You may increase the heat to medium and allow it to rapidly bubble. It works fine though even in low heat. But maybe it is just my stove setting.
Pour or spoon the sauce on the fish and serve immediately. If you want to do a more elaborate presentation and serving, you can garnish with spring onions, julienned ginger, serrano pepper slices, toasted sesame seeds and/or drizzle with a teaspoon of sesame oil.
If you decide fish is not really for you, check out other quick and easy prep meals:
If you love this recipe, please leave a 5 star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below ⬇️ and/or a review in the comment section.
Pan Simmered Cod Fillet Recipe – Quick & Easy Meal Prep
You might not be a fan of fish but this recipe might change your mind. It is jam-packed with flavours elevating your fish dish to another level. So quick and easy, in less than 20 mins dinner is ready!
In a large sauté pan, mix the sake, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a simmer on medium heat.
Allow it to simmer for a minute or two to allow the flavours to come together.
Reduce to low heat and lay each fillet in the pan. If using skin-on Cod fillets, skin-side should be down the pan.
If fillets are thicker, use a spoon to baste the tops of each fillet for about 30-60 seconds. You should be able to see the flakes start to separate.
Simmer for 3-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. An inch thick should probably cook in 5-6 minutes. Thinner ones are done in 3-4 minutes.
Carefully transfer the fillets to a serving plate. Cod fillets are delicate and could fall apart easily.
Allow the sauce to simmer for a minute or two longer to reduce it. Then spoon it over the fish. Serve right away.
Option to garnish include Green Onions, Serrano peppers, Toasted Sesame Seeds and/or 1 tsp Sesame Oil.
Serving Size 4 oz
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 188kcal
- Calories from Fat 66kcal
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 8g13%
- Saturated Fat 1g5%
- Cholesterol 42mg15%
- Sodium 583mg25%
- Potassium 475mg14%
- Total Carbohydrate 1g1%
- Protein 21g42%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption. source: https://nutritiondata.self.com
- This works for other white fish. Your options include Flounder, Rockfish, Mackerel and Sea Bass.
- If you don’t have sake, you can substitute with dry sherry or Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine. If you want to skip the booze all together, grape juice works (ratio is 1:3 to substitute).
- If you have Mirin instead of Rice Vinegar, that will do. Although take note that Mirin is sweeter while Rice Vinegar has this sour tanginess flavour.
- For the Vegetable Oil, you can substitute another neutral oil like Canola. If you have Grapeseed oil, that works too. If in a pinch, Peanut or Sunflower Oil will do, even if they have a much stronger flavour.
- Use any brand of Soy Sauce that you have as you are probably more familiar with that brand/kind anyway. Some Japanese recipe actually specifies Tamari so if you have it, use it.