Oh, hello, June! I’m not sure how you got here so fast, but you are lovely so far. I’ll take sunny and 75º every day, please. The farmer’s market opened today, just a block away from my house, and I enjoyed a stroll with a great friend to check out the gorgeous produce (including my beloved Oregon strawberries) and all of our incredible local artisans. Not a bad start to a Saturday.
It’s the perfect time of year for fish with fruit salsa, and I think you’ll love the spicy and cool flavors in this pan-seared Cod with Cucumber Mango Salsa. Use a premade southwest seasoning blend or make your own and amp up the heat with extra cayenne if you so choose. I like the smaller champagne mangos for their smooth texture and bright sweetness (I buy them in a six-pack at Costco), but any type will do.
Any white fish would work well in this recipe (halibut, tilapia, red snapper, etc.) and salmon would also be delicious. I like cod for it’s mild flavor, firm texture, and median price point.
Cod with Cucumber Mango Salsa
(about 4 servings)
1 1/2 – 2 pounds cod filets, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 – 2 tablespoons Southwest Seasoning
cooking oil (canola or another neutral-flavored oil that can take high heat)
Cucumber Mango Salsa
1 ripe mango
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh
1/2 bell pepper, red or orange, finely chopped
1/8 teasoon kosher or sea salt (a pinch)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (a pinch)
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup (approximately) chopped cilantro, loosely packed
If the cod isn’t pre-portioned, cut it into 6 – 8 ounce filets. Dry them thoroughly with a paper towel, then rub the southwest seasoning and kosher salt on both sides of each filet. Cover and set aside while you make the salsa (refrigerate if it will be longer than 20 minutes).
Cut the mango into small chunks. Mangoes can be tricky to cut. Start by slicing down, lengthwise, on both sides of the flat seed with a sharp knife. Score the fruit on each side as shown below, then invert so the cubes of fruit are sticking out and easy to slice off the peel. Place the mango in a medium-sized bowl.
Chop the red onion and bell pepper and add them to the mango. Add salt and pepper. Squeeze the lime and sprinkle the juice over the mango, onion, and bell pepper; stir to combine.
Chop the cilantro and cucumber and stir them into the salsa. Taste it. Add more lime, salt, or pepper as needed. Set aside at room temp while you cook the fish.
Heat a large sauté pan or skillet (I prefer cast iron for this job) over medium-high heat until it is hot (a drop of water should sizzle and evaporate when tested). Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of cooking oil and heat until it just begins to smoke a little. Lay each cod filet in the pan, leaving a bit of space between each so you don’t crowd the pan. Four filets should fit in a 12-inch pan.
Cook the cod for 2 – 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the filet. It should be cooked through and flaking easily.
Top each filet with a generous amount of salsa before serving, perhaps with a side of rice.
Hiding from joy does not protect one from pain. Embrace joy when it comes.
If you suddenly and unexepectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. Whatever it is. Don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.Mary Oliver