Fish always feels like it requires a constant hands-on presence. In a frying pan, poked and prodded every few minutes to see if it's done.
Blink, and you've overcooked it, and it's rubbery.
It feels like work.
That's no fun.
Oil-poaching fish in the oven solves all of the problems at one time.
Oil poached fish is nothing new. There are scores of recipes.
They all have two things in common, though: oil, and fish.
[Tell me you didn't see that one coming...]
I used the oven temperature and time from Epicurious as a starting point, and went from there. This is easy - 5 minutes to assemble and slide into the oven, then it's just a matter of waiting. The fish is succulent and moist, absorbing the flavors of the garlic, tomato and parsley. The tomato turns sweet and chewy, the parsley crisps up and the oil exhudes a warm garlic aroma when you take the dish out of the oven.
The oil, by the way, can be used as a drizzle for the fish. If you have leftover fish, store it in the oil and it will stay moist as leftovers. When you've eaten all the fish, strain the remaining oil and store in the refrigerator. If your fish is spanking fresh, the oil will not become fishy, just garlicy-tomato-parsley-ey, and can be used for more poached fish, or in dressings or marinades.
It looks like a fancy dinner, it tastes like a fancy dinner, and no one else needs to know it was a breeze.
Oil-poached Cod with garlic, dried cherry tomatoes and parsley.
Serves 4 people, or 2 with leftovers.
1.5 pounds of cod or other firm white fish
2 cups olive oil - you don't need to use your best
1/2 cup dried cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 fresh garlic cloves, whole
salt and pepper to taste
You will also need an oven-safe container that the fish will fit rather snugly into.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and place a rack in the center shelf.
Dry off the fish, salt and pepper it on both sides, and then place it into the oven-safe dish. If the fillet is long or dramatically different in thickness from one end to the other, you can fold over the thinner end to make the fish fit better and/or have a more even thickness.
Scatter the tomatoes and garlic around the fish, and the parsley over it. Pour over the oil.
Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 60 to 70 minutes - mine was perfect at spot on an hour.
Serve with a scattering of the tomatoes and parsley, a drizzle of the olive oil, and a wedge of lemon.
Make more than you need - this makes great leftovers!