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Stewed Cod

Cod Fish

They used to serve something like this, a cross between soup and stew, at St. John’s restaurant in Clerkenwell. We have attempted some reverse engineering and increased the spicing. This is a good company dish because you can prepare everything in advance and then simmer the cod at the last minute. It also is useful because it is equally pleasing at any time of the year.

-olive oil
-one 6x4x2 inch chunk of cod (approx) per person
-an onion, chopped
-an equal amount of chopped celery
-about a teaspoon garlic, smashed and chopped, per four servings
-bay leaf, to taste
-sherry--not too sweet--amontillado recommended
-water or stock, or water and clam juice: amount will vary, figure about 1 ½ - 2 cups per person
-a bulb of fennel per four servings, trimmed and cut with the grain into roughly 1 ½” staves
-one or two small redskin potatoes per person
-dried red pepper flakes (optional)
-chilies to taste, sliced into fine strips
-scallions to taste, sliced thin
-leeks, trimmed, cut into 2” pieces and rinsed thoroughly (one or so per person)
-one or two Goya chorizos or the equivalent (again, vary the amount according to the number of people you are serving, and to taste), optional

  1. Sweat the onion, celery, half of the chilis, and garlic in the olive oil in a big pot.
  2. Deglaze with sherry; add the bay, stock and potatoes. Bring to a hard boil, reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are not quite done.
  3. Throw in the leeks and fennel, and continue to cook until the leeks wilt. Add the dried pepper flakes with the vegetables here if you are using them.
  4. Add chorizo coins if you are using them and remaining chilies, and bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce heat, add the cod and simmer until done: This time will vary depending on how much people like their fish cooked but will not take long.
  6. Add scallions.


- Serve with sourdough or other hot crusty bread for dunking.

- The dish at St. John probably did not include sherry and certainly did not include chorizo, but we could not resist the Iberian influence on either count. Smoked sausage, andouille (Louisianan, not French) or Kielbasa, work almost as well. Alternatively, crisp some bacon and throw it into the broth with the cod at step 5. That would be more authentically British.

- Fish other than cod will do; Pollack, for example, is touted as a good sustainable alternative, but we cannot summon any enthusiasm for its texture or taste. Halibut is a delicious, meaty alternative.

- You will get a brighter flavored broth by using a 1:1 ratio of white Port and white wine instead of the sherry. If you use the Port, omit the pork and, optionally, throw a handful of bay scallops into the pot with the finfish at Step 5. Dry vermouth is another alternative, on its own or split with wine, with or without the pork or scallops.