Baked cod with browned butter

Ugnsbakad torsk med brynt smör

Baked cod with browned butter and baked beetroot

Cod is so often served with brown butter and freshly grated horseradish in Sweden that most fishmongers sell fresh horseradish. Usually the cod is gently poached in a flavoured stock, but this version is slightly easier to cook, especially for a large group. John Duxbury

Summary

Recipe summary for cod baked with brown butter and freshly grated horseradish

Tips

Poached cod with brown butter and freshly grated horseradish

• If you would prefer to poach the cod, click here for our recipe.

Freshly grated horseradish goes well with cod

• Leave grating horseradish until the last moment, as it discolours quickly. (If you can’t find fresh horseradish, use some hot horseradish sauce.)

The logo for Norwegian skrei, a migratory breed of cod

• Use Norwegian skrei if you can. Skrei are migratory cod caught off the coast of Norway between January and April. They are powerful fish making their flesh exceptionally firm, white and supple.

Use a digital thermometer when baking fish

• Use a digital thermometer when baking fish to avoid overcooking it.
• Steps 4 and 5 can be an hour or two in advance if preferred.
• This cod dish goes really well with baked beetroot (see below), new potatoes and steamed asparagus, salsify or carrots.

Ingredients

1 tsp   butter, softened
600 g (1¼ lb) cod loin, or another similar white fish
    salt
100 g (4 oz) streaky bacon, optional
200 g (1 cup) butter
2 tbsp   capers
4 tbsp   freshly grated horseradish
    fresh dill
    lemon wedges, optional

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC (350ºF, gas 4, fan 160ºC).

2. Lightly butter an ovenproof dish big enough to take the fish without packing them too tightly.

3. Cut the fish into 4 even-sized pieces, add them to the dish and then lightly season them with salt.

4. Optional step: cut the bacon into small pieces and fry them over a medium heat until nicely browned. Pat dry using kitchen paper and set aside.

5. Cut the butter into thin slices and brown it over a medium heat until it is a nice nutty brown colour, skimming off any scum. (For more advice on browning butter click here.)

Use a kitchen thermometer to ensure that cod is perfectly cooked

6. Pour the browned butter over the fish and bake in the middle of the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the inner temperature of the fish is 53ºC (127ºF).

7. To serve: add a piece of fish to each plate, top with grated horseradish, spoon over the sauce (browned butter) and garnish with crispy bacon pieces (optional), capers, dill and seasonal vegetables.

Browning butter

The idea is that the butter is heated a little past its melting point, which results in the milk solids in the butter browning and creating a wonderful nutty aroma.

Sliced butter in a thick bottomed saucepan

1. Heat a thick bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Add the butter cut into slices or cubes so that it heats evenly and all the butter melts at the same time.

Butter being heated in a saucepan until foaming

2. Once the butter has melted whisk it frequently. It will produce quite a lot of white foam initially, but then the foam will begin to subside.

Butter being browned in a saucepan

3. Continue whisking and heating the butter, but watching it carefully. Lightly browned specks will begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will give off a gorgeous nutty aroma.

Browned butter in a saucepan

4. Once the butter is a rich golden colour and has a nice nutty aroma, remove the butter from the heat to stop it from cooking any more. Skim off any scum and when required pour it carefully over and around the fish, leaving the speckly brown bits in the saucepan.

Baked beetroot

Beetroot baked with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

This is a fantastic way of cooking beetroot and it goes really well with cod and other meaty white fish. Be sure to drizzle plenty of the juice over the beetroot when you serve them! (Any leftovers can be served cold the next day.)

450 g (1 lb) uncooked beetroot
    salt and freshly ground black pepper
4   cloves of garlic, unpeeled
5 tbsp   balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp   olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas 6, fan 180°C).

2. Rinse the beetroot, top and tail, peel and cut into 2 cm (1") long wedges. Add them to a roast tray and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Lightly squash the unpeeled garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add to the tray.

4, Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and oil olive and give the pan a good shake to ensure the beetroot are evenly coated in the oil and vinegar.

5. Cover with foil and roast in the preheated oven for 1-1¼ hours, until tender but still with a bit of "bite". Keep the beetroot warm until required. 

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John Duxbury
Editor and Founder