When I first saw this recipe posted at Anticiplate, it really appealed to me, though on the surface it's hard to say why. Couldn't be the cod, which I like, though it's not a type of fish I'd get excited about. Definitely not the cilantro, and I have a love-hate relationship with eggplant. I like the taste, but I hate when it's really mushy, and I hate how much oil is required to crisp it up. I think the reason why this jumped out at me is the combination of coconut milk and heat, which works wonderfully in Thai and Indian food. However, I've never seen coconut milk with Latin-type spices. Maybe it's really common and I've just missed it, which is very possible. Either way, the combination worked really well, and the eggplant didn't get too mushy, and this dish was delicious.
For the fish, I used scrod from the Greenmarket - the woman behind the counter described it to me as being very similar to cod, but milder and more delicate. I tend to think of cod as mild and delicate to begin with, so I worried the fish would have no flavor at all, but it was cheap so I got it anyway. And it was really good! I don't think I'd make a piece of scrod the highlight of a meal, like I would with salmon or tuna. Here, though, the mild flesh cut through the spicy stew in a similar way that rice would have. I think scrod would also be great deep-fried as the fish half of fish and chips. Yum.
Anyway, I followed the recipe pretty closely, with only a few modifications. I replaced the capers and cilantro used as garnishes with some chopped scallions, I used my slow-roasted tomatoes instead of sun-dried ones, and I cut the whole recipe in half. My modified version is below.
Cod with Stewed Eggplant
recipe by Daisy Martinez for Every Day with Rachel Ray
4-5 small Japanese eggplants, diced
1 plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup slow-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cubanelle pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 an 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup flour
2 6-ounce cod fillets
Handful chopped scallions
knife and cutting board
saucepan or dutch oven-type pot
In a colander, salt the eggplant; let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and pepper and cook for 7 minutes.
Pat the eggplant dry. Add to the skillet with the tomato sauce, coconut milk, cumin and water; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover and simmer, stirring once, until the eggplant softens, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the cod with salt and pepper; coat with the flour. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbs olive oil over high heat until hot. Add the cod and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes; flip and cook until opaque, about 1 minute more. Drain on paper towels.
Divide the stewed eggplant among 2 plates and top each serving with a cod fillet. Sprinkle with chopped scallions.