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Back-to-School: Coconut Milk Poached Cod with Bell Peppers and Pineapple
This back-to-school season, I will be posting new One-Bowl-Wonders recipes. Recipes in this series are simple, quick, and can be made with just one bowl. They are designed to be ready to eat in under an hour without wrecking your whole kitchen! Easy recipes. Easy clean-up. Big reward! ….Perfect for back to school!
In August, the husband and I stole away for a little over a week in Kauai. It was equal parts invigorating, relaxing, and exactly what we needed before launching into a crazy season that will involve a move (never fun) and lots of changes (all, good and necessary). Kauai and Hawaii, in general, may not be known as a culinary destination per say, but lets get a couple of things straight. Hawaii is an island with a unique and varied ecosystem of plants, animals, and human cultural influences. This combination – when properly combined – leads to some of the most incredible fresh flavors! Especially the fish!! I consumed, purchased, and sampled more amazing flavors of ahi poke than anyone should consume in 8 days. I will never be able to recreate the flavors, freshness, and creativity that danced on my tongue….
The island of Kauai is an intoxicating experience. No alcohol required! Although, a mai-tai or two isn’t a bad idea:) By the time we left, I 100% understand how people could trade in life on the mainland for island life.
As we were turning in our snorkel gear, we struck up a conversation with the gal at the shop. She shared her trick for poaching white fish in coconut milk to infuse it with the taste of Kauai! And, I almost invited myself to dinner. Unfortunately, I’m freshly out of banana leaves from my non-existent banana tree here in Seattle… nor do I have a “Ti leaf plant” to wrap my fish in prior to poaching as she described…. But you better believe I am going to borrow as much of her method as I can! It sounded incredible!
And while I am not exactly sure how this compares, I can tell you that this coconut milk poached cod with pineapple and bell peppers is pretty incredible! I wanted to sop up every last drop of the cooking liquid! With the flavors of ginger, lime, lemongrass, coconut milk, and pineapple, this super fast simple poached cod recipe transforms a weeknight-meal into something that feels much more elegant.
After our trip, I learned a few things about myself.
- I was craving a lot more than just a relaxing trip
- I need to infuse more than just a little coconut milk poached fish into my life.
I left Kauai feeling more creatively inspired than I have in months! No. Scratch that. More like years!
While the trip was amazingly relaxing, it was also the energy jolt I needed to reinvigorate my creative juices. Life moves too quickly! So, I’m hanging on to little ways of reminding myself to soak in life! Since, a move to Kauai is likely not on the horizon for our family (but, hey, never say never!). I’m focusing on keeping the Kauai spirit alive in more ways than just my kitchen. But, if a one-pot, 20-minute coconut milk infused dish helps keep things deliciously simple as we get back into the swing of schedules, then it’s a start!
More about our Kauai trip will be coming in the next weeks! So many awesome spots to share! And if you are planning a trip, there are a few must stop/do/see places on that list!!! So I’m trying to be extra thorough and sorting through a bazillion photos! But how do I choose???
Even if you aren’t heading to the islands any time soon, make coconut milk poached cod and at let’s all pretend we are on vacation;)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ onion, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
- pinch of kosher salt
- ½ c. chopped pineapple, cut into 1/2” pieces
- Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to pan over medium heat
- Add 3 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
- 2-3” piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 lemongrass stalks, halved lengthwise then halved horizontally (remove tough outer layer)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 c. light coconut milk, from can
- 1 c. vegetable broth
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- black pepper, for seasoning fish
- 1 lb. cod (thawed if frozen), cut into 4 servings
- Juice from 1 lime
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro Leaves
- Brown rice
To prepare the vegetables: In a large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan with lid, head olive oil over medium heat and add garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Add a pinch of kosher salt and cook uncovered for about 1 minute. Add soy sauce, stir, and cook covered for 2-3 more minutes, until veggies are al dente. Move veggies to one side of the pan and add pineapple to the other side of pan. Cover and cook pineapple for about 1 minute to caramelize some of the exterior sugars and absorb a hint of the soy sauce. You don’t want to thoroughly cook the pineapple. Transfer all veg and pineapple to a heat proof bowl and cover.
To poach the fish: Add olive oil to pan over medium high heat. Once oil is hot enough that it sizzles when water droplets land in it, add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and bay leaves. Immediately add coconut milk, broth, and soy sauce. Cover and bring mixture to a simmer. Meanwhile pat fish dry with a paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper. Once coconut milk mixture has been brought to a simmer, reduce temperature to medium-low. Add lime juice, stir, and position the 4 pieces of fish in the pot. Ladle some of the cooking liquid on top of the fish and immediately cover to poach fish.
For serving: Be very careful not to overcook the fish. Depending on the thickness of your fillets this should take between 4-6 minutes! Some thinner tail-end fillets may even take closer to 3 minutes! When fish is just cooked through, immediately transfer each of the fillets to a plate and ladle cooking liquid over the top. Serve vegetables and pineapple on top of fish an cooking liquids. Add a scoop of rice if desired and top with cilantro and additional lime juice if desired.