Fresh seafood and corn are some of summer's biggest stars. On this week's episode of F&W Cooks, chef George Mendes combines them into one meal — his recipe for Ten-Minute Salt Cod with Corn and Littleneck Clams. Mendes says the salt cod component is inspired by "the traditional salting of cod, also known as bacalhau, in many of the European countries like Spain, Portugal." While you'd normally let the fish sit for at least two days, his quick version only takes 10 minutes. He then sears it so it develops a crust, and then cooks it with littleneck clams, garlic, herbs, and white wine — buttery, slightly lemony corn kernels round the meal out. Start-to-finish, it's a 40 minute-meal that you can easily throw together on a weeknight.
Sound good? Read on for Mendes' method and follow along with the video above.
Salt the Cod
You'll need skinless center-cut cod fillets for this recipe, as well as plenty of kosher salt. Place the fillets on a plate or rimmed baking sheet and cover them — we're talking all over, front, back, and sides — with the salt. Let them sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse the salt off and pat them dry. Since cod is such a mild and flaky fish, Mendes explains that salting it adds flavor and also helps firm it up.
Blanch the Corn
While the cod rests in the salt, take the shucked ears of corn and quickly blanch them; then, drain and pat them dry. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to a small skillet, tossing them with unsalted butter, fresh lemon juice, and some white pepper. You don't need to cook them for a long time — just until they're heated through.
Cook the Seafood
Next, heat some extra-virgin olive oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet. Dust the cod fillets with Wondra flour, season them with white pepper, and add them to the skillet skin-side down. Let 'em cook over high heat for a few minutes until they're golden — don't disturb them, you want a crust to form. Then, flip and cook them over moderate heat for one more minute.
The clams go in at this point, along with the cilantro, thyme, garlic, and more white pepper (Mendes adds parsley here in the episode, too). Then, pour in the dry white wine, cover the skillet, and cook for a few more minutes over moderate heat until the clams open and the cod has cooked through. Make sure you discard the herb sprigs, as well as any clams that don't open.
© Anna Williams
Before you serve the finished dish, rewarm the buttery corn. Then, divide it between four shallow bowls and top it with a cod fillet. Sprinkle on some smoked paprika, spoon the clams and broth over the dish, and finish it off with a garnish of fresh parsley. Then, all that's left to do is enjoy — don't forget a piece of crusty bread for sopping up the broth.
"This is such a summery dish," Mendes says after trying it.