Saturday, August 23, 2014

Panko-Crusted Cod with Fennel Raita

This dish jumped out at me in a recent issue of Cooking Light, and it did not disappoint.  Although the plate looks like it has a lot of elements, each one comes together quickly and the combination of each of them is amazing.  I was totally in love with the fennel raita -- I've always used cucumbers in raita before, and the fennel contributes a different (and delicious) flavor profile as well as extra crunch.  Be sure to dice the fennel finely so you don't get big chunks.  A shredded carrot salad is a great fresh element, and I loved the crispy topping on the fish.  It sort of reminded me of fish sticks, but in a much fancier presentation!  Couscous on the side rounds out the plate with a little starch.

To get this on the table as quickly as possible, start by prepping the fennel raita and the shredded carrot salad (no recipe below, but I've linked to a couple in the photo caption if you need one -- my general formula is 3 carrots for 2 people, peeled and grated, olive oil, some type of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, etc.), and then something fun like fresh herbs, nuts, cheese, toasted spices, and/or dried fruit).  Then stash the veggies in the fridge and start water boiling for the couscous.  Of course you can make it from scratch if you like, but I find the boxed version is really tasty and super easy, so I went that route.  Prep the fish toppings, and then add the couscous to the water and set it aside to steam.  The fish cooks really quickly, so it should be done around the same time as the couscous.  Word of warning: the fish goes under the broiler for under 2 minutes, so don't be an idoit like me and decide to use that time for washing dishes!  My panko topping got a little too dark -- luckily it was still yummy, but a few more seconds and we really would have had the bad kind of blackened fish.  Keep an eye on the fish under the broiler and it will be perfectly cooked.

Bonus tip: If you end up with leftovers, break up the fish into bite-sized pieces and toss everything together in a tupperware.  Sounds weird (and looks sort of gross), but it tasted amazing the next day for lunch!

On the side: shredded carrot salad (this one is just olive oil, parsley, and rice wine vinegar, but if you want a recipe, some options are here and here), fennel raita (recipe below), and couscous.

Panko-Crusted Cod with Fennel Raita (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 3-4

1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely diced
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I like 2%, but you can use any you like)
1 T minced fennel fronds
1-1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 cup panko
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Generous pinch Aleppo chili flakes
1 pound white fish (such as cod or tilapia)

1. Combine the fennel, yogurt, fennel fronds, vinegar, and honey in a bowl.  Season generously with salt, and stir to combine.  Cover and stash in the fridge until ready to use.
2. Preheat the broiler to high.
3. In a small bowl, combine the panko and garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper.  Add a glug of olive oil (enough to just moisten the panko), and combine with your fingers until the mixture is uniform.
4. In another small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, and Aleppo chili flakes.  Season with salt and pepper, and mix until combined.
5. Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour in a little olive oil and let it get hot while you prepare the fish.
6. Pat the fish fillets dry, and rub the spice mixture on one side of the fish.  When the skillet is hot, place the fish in the pan spice-side-down.  Cook for 3 minutes, then flip the fish.
7. Top the fish with the panko mixture, as evenly as possible.  Then pop the fish under the broiler for 60-90 seconds, until the panko is nicely browned.  Keep an eye on the fish the entire time so that it does not burn!
8. Check that the fish is cooked through, and if not, give it a little more time on the stovetop (mine was good, but I also got my topping too dark!)  Serve with the yogurt sauce.


  1. I have a confession to make: every time I see your blog title "cupcakemuffin" I always thinks hmmm, how can I make a cupcake muffin and what flavor will it be?
    LOL I'm so serious.

    1. Haha, love it! :) I think the ultimate cupcake muffin is probably the "chocolate-chocolate chip muffin." Technically a muffin so technically you can eat it for breakfast, is just a cupcake in disguise. :)