Olive-oil poached cod Niçoise

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Poaching fish in oil is a great way of cooking as you get lots of flavour into the fish and it stays moist. At Leuka, the annual charity dinner where each table of diners is cooked for by a different chef for whom they've bid, Bruce Poole of Chez Bruce in Wandsworth served something like this to his lucky guests that evening, paired with baby artichokes.

Traditionally a Niçoise salad needn't have included tuna. It was about using local ingredients, in season, and would have consisted of a number of vegetables such as artichokes and beans with a good dressing, herbs and anchovies.

Most fishmongers should be selling sustainable cod these days; failing that, you could use pollock.

for the salad

1 fennel bulb
100g, podded weight of broad beans, cooked
2 firm tomatoes, skinned, seeded and finely chopped
20 black kalamata olives
1tbsp chopped chervil, parsley and chives, mixed
1tbsp good-quality white wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the fish

A thick fillet of cod, (about 3-4cm) or pollock, weighing about 400g
Olive oil to cover
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, or half a head of new season's garlic
1/2 tbsp sea salt
A few sprigs of thyme
1tsp fennel seeds
10 peppercorns

Sprinkle the salt on the fish and leave it to sit for 30 minutes. Put enough olive oil in a saucepan to cover the cod. (A small, tight-fitting pan should be used or you will end up using too much olive oil). Into the pan, put the garlic, thyme, fennel seeds and peppercorns. Heat the pan gently and leave to infuse on a very low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cod and leave somewhere warm with a lid on for 1 hour. A pan of gently simmering water with an inverted lid would be good, or the warming oven of an Aga. The idea is that the cod just barely cooks in the oil and becomes beautifully translucent.

Halve the fennel bulb and cook in boiling salted water for 30 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the liquid and leave to cool.

Cut each half of the fennel in half, remove the core and separate the natural layers and mix with the broad beans, tomatoes and herbs.

Put the olives on a chopping board and crush them a little with the bottom of a saucepan to reveal the stone. Then carefully remove all the stones and add the crushed flesh to the fennel mixture. Add the vinegar and about 4-5 tbsp of the oil from the cod, mix well and season.

Finally, arrange the mixture on serving plates, then remove the cod from the oil with a slotted spoon and break into pieces over the salad.

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