Cod is traditional for New Years in Denmark (usually boiled and served with potatoes and mustard sauce) and we decide on the cod but baked and served with a saffron sauce made from the broth of mussels and cream and and a side of spinach. The whole composition is actually a brainstorm. Neither one of us had a clear picture of how it should be from the outset. We went to Torvehallerne to get inspired and gradually we decided on the ingredients. In the end, we came up with something that could have been invented many times before and probably has, but the process was very inspiring.
Ingredients for two people:
one small fillet of cod (220 gr)
two handfuls of mussels
1 small carrot
1 half stalk of celery
1 large clove of garlic
1 chili (half of it de-seeded)
1 small handful of parsley
1 glass of white wine
1 dl cream
a pinch of saffron
s/p – perhaps a bit of lemon juice
200 gr of fresh spinach
1 tsp cold butter
a bit of lemon juice
The spinach is cleansed and cooked in hot water for 2 minutes, whereafter it is drained with cold water. It is then blended with butter and some of the cooking water. Ideally it will be a thin puree, but depending on the amount of cooking water it can become more or less solid. If it cools too much you should re-heat it a little bit perhaps just by heating the plate it is served on.
First rinse the mussels. Discard any that will not close when you tap them or if the shells are broken. Put the mussels in a hot pot with lid for until they open. How long it takes depends much upon how many mussels you are preparing and on the heat. The important thing is to cook them until they have opened and is just done – but not overdone and dry. The mussels will leave a wonderful broth. Take the mussels out of the casserole leaving the juice. Discard the mussels that have not opened. Add to the broth; shallot, garlic, carrot, celery stalk, a little fresh chilli, parsley, the cut-offs from the cod and white wine. Let it simmer and reduce to about half. In the mean time take out the mussels from their shells.
When about ready, put the cod in the oven at 200 degrees and cook for 4 minutes. It is very important to get this right. If baked too long it will become dry, flaky and more difficult to arrange on the plate.
We tasted two different white wines to determine which went better. They were not particularly similar. The first was Toledana Gavi di Gavi. It was nice, but we were never in doubt and chose Henri Boillot's 2009 Bourgogne. We have later learned that this was reviewed well, but it was suggested that it did not go well with cream nor shellfish. Oh dear!