Thursday, October 6, 2022

Salt-and-Pepper Cod with Turmeric Noodles

When I flip through a new cookbook and just know the dishes shown are going to taste great, it’s a sure sign I’ll be spending a lot of time with that book. That’s what happened with the review copy I received of The Cook You Want to Be by Andy Baraghani. His food is self-described as maybe “a touch too lemony;” he claims to use “a ridiculous amount of herbs;” and he prefers “vegetables to meat.” So, it’s pretty much perfect to my taste. Every dish seems to include some kind of special touch that boosts the flavor, and there’s a chapter for just that purpose. The Mighty Little Recipes chapter includes sauces and toppings that add that extra something. My first stop in the book was to try the Creamy Nuoc Cham from this chapter. Pureed cashews give it the creamy texture, and I used it as a dipping sauce for roasted shrimp. So many things caught my eye as I read through the book. All of the egg recipes did, especially the Crispy Chickpea Bowls with Lemony Yogurt and Chile-Stained Fried Eggs. I stopped twice in the Snacks to Share chapter to try the Broken Feta with Sizzled Mint and Walnuts and the Nuts to Drink With. The mix of lemongrass, garlic, red pepper flakes, and honey made those nuts particularly addictive. The Salads chapter delivers with Parmesan-Kale Chip Salad with Tangy Mustard Dressing and Juicy Tomatoes with Italian Chile Crisp among several others. The Vegetables chapter shows that creamy nuoc cham served with Charred Brussels Sprouts as well as Roasted Carrots with Hot Green Tahini, and now I can’t wait for those vegetables to come into season. I could live in the Grains chapter and can’t wait to try the Fregola with Buttery Clams and Yuzu Kosho. I had lots of local zucchini on hand, so I made the Farro with Melty Zucchini and Sumac. The Castelvetrano olives, red wine vinegar, and sumac made it delicious. There are also meat recipes and a slim chapter for sweets. But, next, I turned to the Salt-and-Pepper Cod with Turmeric Noodles. 

The dish is an adaptation of cha ca la vong but with an addition of butter in the noodles. Here, the nuoc cham with fresh chiles, garlic, fish sauce, and lime juice is not made creamy. It’s a runny sauce to drizzle over the fish and noodles. Grated ginger and garlic were coated on pieces salt-and-pepper-seasoned cod before the fish was seared in a hot pan. Dried vermicelli noodles were cooked and drained and then tossed in melted butter with ground turmeric. To serve, the noodles formed a bed for pieces of cod that were topped with lots of chopped herbs and green onion. Dill is traditional here but I used a mix of herbs. More herbs on the side are fun to add to each bite along with the sauce. 

Like all the recipes in this book, this one was uncomplicated but flavor-forward. It’s easy enough to be on regular rotation, but pretty enough to impress. And, that’s exactly the point of these dishes. As the author says, they should impress “not just your friends but yourself!” And, they will.

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