I love buying frozen fish. It’s super handy and still tastes great since many fishermen can flash-freeze it almost immediately after harvesting. And while fish thaws quickly, the thawing process is still a tiny pain in the butt; so I started looking for ways to forgo the whole “thawing” thing altogether (sheesh, how lazy can I get?). And that’s when I stumbled upon my new best friend, Torsk.
The word Torsk itself means “cod” in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, but also is often used to describe a cod dish in Scandinavia that is sometimes cooked from a frozen state. Perfect. When researching Torsk recipes, I found that they were either poached or broiled; never one to do something halfway, I decided to do both methods in the same recipe to get the best of both worlds. Pulling this dish off is a little different from your typical recipe, but don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through the process. I’m really excited about this recipe, especially because you can pull fish out of the freezer and put it on your dinner table in 20 minutes. It just can’t be beat in terms of convenience and tastiness.
Most broiled versions of Torsk call for butter, but in order to keep the butter from burning I mixed in an equal amount of ghee (which has a much higher smoking point since it doesn’t have milk solids). Lately I’ve been using Tin Star Foods ghee, which is hand-poured in small batches using Kerrygold butter (from grass-fed cows). This ghee is awesome – smooth, flavorful, and rich. Definitely worth your time.
Torsk (Scandinavian Poached Cod)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp salt
2 frozen cod filets
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp ghee, melted
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
1. Add the honey and salt to 1 cup hot water, stirring to dissolve. In a deep skillet or wide saucepan, add the two frozen filets; pour the hot water over the fish, then add enough cold water to just cover the filets. For me it was about 3 additional cups of water. Add the peppercorns and bay leaves to the skillet/pan.
2. Turn on your oven and set it to “broil” (“grill” in some countries) and put an oven rack at the top 1/3 of the oven. Place your skillet/pan on the stovetop and bring just to a boil over med/high heat; reduce heat to med/low and gently simmer until the fish is soft to the touch but before it flakes, about 6 minutes.
3. Carefully remove the filets from the liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the melted butter and ghee, then pour half of the mixture into a rimmed baking sheet and swirl it around to coat. Add the fish to the baking sheet; brush the remaining butter onto the fish and sprinkle on a bit of salt. Place in the oven and broil until golden and just flaking, about 3 minutes, then serve with the browned butter drizzled over the fish.
** If you have a fan hood on your oven range, be sure to turn it on; when you remove the fish from the oven, it will be smoking a bit from the browned butter. Speaking from experience here (our smoke alarm is very loud).
** If you’re avoiding lactose, simply use 1/4 cup melted ghee instead of the butter/ghee blend.
** For some zing, serve with a horseradish mayo or your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank’s, etc).
** These are the typical ingredients used in this recipe, but feel free to go nuts with other seasonings: minced garlic in the butter, crushed black pepper at the end, whatever suits your fancy. For a more Scandinavian twist, consider throwing in some fresh dill while poaching, and serve with some chopped boiled eggs.
Frozen filets in the poaching liquid.
Feel free to scale up the recipe for more dinner guests; just be sure to account for the extra room you’ll need during the poaching stage (step #2).