Sunday, August 10, 2008

Seared Black Cod With Sautéed Fennel And A Tomato Cucumber Salsa

We were in Portland, Oregon. One block off the Pearl. This is where hip, chic, trendy, spendy and not so spendy bars and restaurants, from brew pubs to haute cuisine and everything in between, abound. And what do we do? We cook in our hotel room.

It's true. Mr CC and I spent four fun-filled days in Portland visiting our youngest, soon-to-be-married-to-a-lovely-young-woman son and had dinner out in the city renowned for its diversity of restaurants, just once.

I can hear all you foodies who know and love Portland (as we do) gasping in disbelief, but it's true.

For breakfast and lunch we found great eating spots (which will be posted soon on my almost defunct due to my negligence but now being resurrected blog, Box Car Odysseys), and we prowled around and found great places to have locally-brewed beers, but . . .

Now all this is not to say that we didn't eat well. We ate very well. One evening we were treated to a wonderful home-cooked meal at the parents of our future daughter-in-law. Another night we enjoyed a barbeque at her sister's house. Yet another time we had a huge lunch so late in the day that we kinda skipped dinner altogether. And on Saturday morning we headed for the farmers market. . .

The Saturday Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University should be on every foodie's list of places not to miss. In a shady grove of shade and grass, the scope of abundant, organic goodness from local cheeses to locally caught, fresh fish, a plethora of sun-kissed fruits and vegetables, even desserts - my little foodie heart was ready to burst with excitement. How could I not cook?

Knowing we had limited cooking resources (check out the room's very cool but dinky kitchen) and not about to go out and buy things that we would either end up wasting or schlepping back home in a cooler, we made exacting choices and cooked minimally. What you see on the plate at the top of this post was superbly delicious, owed to a great extent to the excellence of the farmers market vendors.

Our black cod , a highly nutritious and abundant northern pacific coast fish, also known as Sablefish, came from Stonewall Bank Seafood (they don't seem to have a web site).

The fennel, basil, tomatoes and cucumbers came from Spring Hill Farm's extensive selection of vegetables and herbs.

A little sautéed fennel, some herbed gray sea salt found at Zupan's, a salsa, of sorts, consisting of tomato, cucumber and basil topped with Annie's Organic Balsamic Viniagrette and we were eating very well indeed.

Christine's Seared Black Cod with Fennel and a Cucumber Tomato Basil Salsa
Makes 2 generous servings
8-ounce filet of black cod, skinned
1 small fennel bulb, cleaned and cut into small dice
2 teaspoons butter
2 very red tomatoes (ours were Early Girls), diced
1 long green cucumber, peeled and diced
5-6 leaves large-leaf, deep green basil, cut chiffonade
2 tablespoons balsamic viniagrette
a pinch or two of herbed gray salt
Dice the tomatoes and cucumbers and prepare the basil chiffonade. Toss them all together in a bowl with the vinaigrette. Set aside at room temperature.
In a skillet over medium high heat, saute the fennel in the butter until golden brown and tender.
Move the fennel to the edges of the pan and add the black cod filet. Cook until just golden on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side.
Remove the fish to a warm plate and sprinkle with the herbed salt.
Spoon the salsa over the fish, cut into two servings and enjoy while it's hot.

Cook's Notes:
> The cooling effect of the tomato cucumber salsa is a great foil to the hot-out-of-the-pan fish and slightly caramelized fennel.
> And for dessert. . .
. . . we nibbled on luscious, lightly salted chocolate chip cookies from Two Tarts bakery whose booth at the farmers market sported quite a long line.

With a view of the bridges over the Willamette River and Mt. Hood from our hotel window, we lacked for nothing more.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Sounds delicious! Congratulations to the couple.

  2. Sounds like you had a very nice visit. You made all that delicious stuff in the "dinky" kitchen? Wow!

    Paz ;-)

  3. This all sounds wonderful, Christine, and I feel as I were there with you!

    Mr. FKIA and I love cooking for ourselves while traveling. I enjoy making do in those dinky little kitchens. The food still tastes good! Sometimes it tastes better than at home.

    BTW, I will be back to California and will let you know when. I was in Sonoma from Aug 1-3 and that's it! But I loved the food!

  4. Arrrg! Back to work after having 5 weeks off; busy, busy, busy and neglecting my favorite bloggers' comments. I do apologize and thank you all for your kind thoughts.
    And, Mimi, you're forgiven. :) But I fully expect to meet up with you when you return to my golden state.

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  6. Nice salsa! We love cod here too, it is such a versatile fish to work with.

    Oh and congrats!

  7. Thanks Donald. I love your grilled lamb recipe.

  8. Another nice recipe.

  9. Cooking fresh food in a dinky kitchen can be lots more fun than going out... And you can afford better wine ;-))

  10. Christine, I could be coming back as soon as 2009, either in the summer or fall. I would love to meet!

  11. Thank you, Anne. Hope you and family are well.

    We did have some very nice wine, Katie.

    It's a date Mimi. I'll get it on the calendar as soon as I know when you're coming out.

  12. i'm trying to learn how to cook, thanks for sharing your ideas... Busby SEO challenge


  13. Christine! Our son just got married in Portland on 25 July . . . Well, we must get something coordinated one day. The cod look fabulous. The kitchen reminds me of a place we stayed a few times that now seems to not be available to rent anymore. Where did you stay?
    We love Portland.

  14. Tanna, I knew your son's wedding was close to the time I was there. Yes, now that we've both got sons living in Portland, we've got to be better coordinated about our visits. ;)
    We stayed at the Mark Spencer Hotel on 10th and W. Stark. It's a short block from the Pearl. The link is in my post above.

  15. Ah, Portland! Great food wherever you look. Hotel rooms too, apparently!

  16. I'll be putting up a few posts about Portland food soon, Stephanie. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Great blog! It's always so nice to be inspired by people who are dealing with nice articles into their blog. Thanks for sharing your post with us..

  18. Thank you for stopping by, Criminal. Hmmm... you really are a criminal background check web site. Why did you stop by? :)


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