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summer’s last hurrah

Recipe: pan-seared black cod with summer vegetables

[I completely forgot about this interview with Friday magazine earlier this month! Click on over if you’re bored and haven’t heard enough of my yammering. It features some other food bloggers you might recognize too.]

It was hot this weekend! This is what they call Indian summer, right? Summer is pretty brief where we live, so we welcome it with open arms in the mountains. It’s glorious. As summer winds down, Jeremy and I are both pretty happy to move into autumn – which arrives right on schedule around these parts. Taking advantage of these last hot and sunny days, we distributed the compost in our yard to make room in the compost bin, cleaned out the basement, did heaps of recycling, and replaced our hot water heater. Okay, the hot water heater sort of demanded replacement when it died and flooded the basement, but I’m glad we took care of it in summer rather than winter.

and kaweah got a much needed bath

Our fall colors are arriving in full force to the south. I’m looking forward to a cool down because when I see yellow aspens, I want to be wearing fleece – not sweating my brains out in a short-sleeve t-shirt getting sunburned, which is exactly what happened on Sunday’s shoot. But have a gander at what we found. [See the full set on the photo blog.]

colorado gold on deep blue skies

healthy pines and golden aspens

a lovely mix of colors


aglow in early afternoon light

When I was in Seattle, my friend Caroline had complained that they didn’t get a real summer and that she wasn’t ready to let it go just yet. One evening we went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner. Hmmmm, what to make for dinner? Caroline went to grab some black cod to bake and Erin asked me to come up with a vegetable. I remembered Caroline’s comment about summer and picked up some summery vegetables for a simple sauté to go with the fish.

corn on the cob

slicing the kernels off

At home, I wanted to try the same vegetables with pan-seared black cod. I too didn’t want to let summer go just yet. There will be time for pumpkins, apples, pomegranates, and butternut squash. Our corn is still sweet. The zucchini are still plentiful. And tomatoes… I am a sucker for the sweet sweet lovin’ of summer tomatoes.

dicing zucchini

cherry tomatoes in the last light of summer

diced into jewels

Black cod, unlike regular cod, has a more buttery texture. It’s more oily than regular cod. I picked up a couple of pieces at my local Whole Foods where my buddy Dustin selected the best fillets for me.

sliced into 3-4 ounce pieces

sprinkle with sea salt on both sides

The fish cooks for about ten minutes, but if you are nervous about timing then I suggest preparing the vegetables first and keeping them warm in the pan while the fish cooks. Pan-searing makes a big splattery mess in my kitchen which is why I cook the fish last (and give it my full attention). I cooked the vegetables to just underdone and left them in the pan (which retains heat well).

sauté the zucchini in some butter

then sauté the corn

To pan-sear the fish, I used my tea seed oil from Earthy Delights which touts a high-smoking point (it was one of our swag items from the Food and Light workshop). You don’t need a lot of oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. There’s so much sizzling and popping of oil and I’m always so fearful of overcooking seafood, that I consider myself lucky to have gotten a photo of it at all…

skin-side down

Once you have flipped the fish over and bottoms have become golden and crisp, remove them from the pan. Quickly spoon the corn and zucchini onto a plate, top with diced raw tomatoes, sprinkle parsley and sea salt, then drizzle some olive oil on the tomatoes.

just a dash of olive oil will do

place the filet on the vegetables

It’s so simple. The dish highlights all of the flavors of the ingredients without drowning any one out. The vegetables were all so sweet and fresh. It tasted like summer and we felt it was most appropriate to enjoy it on our deck as the sun dropped low in the sky. See ya later, Summer. I look forward to catching up again next year.

a late summer dinner

Pan-seared Black Cod with Summer Vegetables
[print recipe]

2 ears fresh corn
4 4-oz. pieces of black cod fillet
sea salt
olive oil or tea seed oil
2 tbsps butter, unsalted
2 small zucchini, diced
fresh ground pepper
4 oz. cherry tomatoes, diced
parsley, minced
olive oil

Shuck the ears of corn and carefully slice the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. Keep a dog around to pick up any kernels that tumble onto the ground. Pat the black cod pieces dry and sprinkle both sides with sea salt.

In a medium pan, melt a tablespoon of the butter over medium high heat. Add the zucchini and sauté. Sprinkle sea salt to taste and continue to sauté until the zucchini is just tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same pan over medium high heat. Add the corn and sauté. Sprinkle sea salt to taste. The corn should cook quickly, in a minute or so. Add the zucchini and stir together. Give it a grind of pepper to taste and remove from heat. Set aside.

In a frying pan (don’t use non-stick), pour enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (but not too much, it’s hugely messy). Set the heat to medium high or high. When the oil is hot, carefully place the fillets skin-side down in the pan. Expect spattering. Try to press the pieces flat with a spatula to keep them from curling for a few minutes. Cook the fish for about 5 to 7 minutes – the skin should be crisp and golden. Use a thin metal spatula (or a fish spatula if you have one) and flip the pieces over carefully (more splattering). Continue to cook until the bottoms are golden – I cooked for about 3 to 4 more minutes. Gently scoot the spatula under the fish to “unstick” the pieces without tearing the fish apart and set on a plate.

Scoop the corn and zucchini onto a plate. Top with a spoonful of the diced tomatoes. Sprinkle parsley and a pinch of salt over the tomatoes and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Set a piece of fish on the vegetables and serve.

31 nibbles at “summer’s last hurrah”

  1. Gali says:

    Kaweah is giving the perfect look of a (big) puppy in the middle of bath time! Why is it that they always prefer mud baths and not clean water baths?

  2. Wei-Wei says:

    I have never, ever seen such beautifully vibrant fall colours. In my life. Ever. The only fall colour there is here is… brown. :(

  3. Kathy says:

    Your outdoor photographs and of the tomatoes are gorgeous!!

  4. Melanie says:

    I miss fall – your photos almost make me feel like I was there. As does the pix of kaweah :) I love the light. And boy you are good with that fish!

  5. sam says:

    oh this looks so good really my kind of food almost mediterranean which I’m a sucker for. Although I love a lot of different kinds of food sometimes you just need something simple and clean, like a palate cleanser of the week. I call them salt and pepper meals, no fuss or heavy seasoning just salt and pepper and they are so easy to prepare during summer with all the fresh produce.

  6. Joanne at Frutto della Passione says:

    I miss those yellows! Autumn is funny here. I have literally gone years without seeing bright fall colours, but the last few years we’ve had greater temperature differences and some wonderfully colourful scenery. But that yellow, I only see that yellow when I get back to Canada. The dish looks stunning too!

  7. Megan says:

    Those photos are absolutely beautiful – I’ve really never seen anything like it! I’m used to the usual orange/brown/red Autumn leaves, but an entire slope of butter-yellow leaves has me amazed. Stunning.

    Oh, and the advice about keeping a dog around to eat the stray kernels made me laugh – good job! :)

  8. Jamie in Vegas says:

    Damn, I love this recipe. I feel like tattooing it on my arm!

  9. Bing Chou says:

    I feel guilty passing on going up to the In-Laws’ place in Bailey this weekend – I hope there are still a few leaves on the trees when we head up next weekend. A great last hurrah before fall comes – thanks as usual for the beautiful photos.

  10. Asha@FSK says:

    OMG!!! Fall is coming spectacularly in your region!! Such stunning yellows and oranges ! breathtaking!!!

  11. Carrie says:

    I’m a Seattlite and that totally makes me want summer back, hardcore.

  12. Radhika@Foodfor7Stages says:

    Mind blowing fall pics. Can’t wait for the leaves to change its color in our side of the country.

  13. Carrie says:

    Those photographs are AWESOME! Someday, I am going to purchase some of your photos and I hope you put those on your photo web page so I can remember that they are some of my favorites!

  14. Joy says:

    I love your recipes. Your pics are utterly beautiful.

  15. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Now I have seen a lot of fetching pictures of Kaweah, but this one might just be my favorite. How much cuteness can you fit onto a screen? Looks like the fall leaves are going to cooperate this year–if only the wind dies down! Your pics look great.

  16. Leeann says:

    Wonderful pictures. I miss aspen trees. In my neck of the woods, we don’t have autumn. Well, we do. We just recognize it when the night time temps dip below 80! Thanks for another great recipe!

  17. angelitacarmelita says:

    omg, I am such a southern girl… but your pictures make me want to move to your neck of the woods! stunning, absolutely stunning.

  18. Debbie Cunningham says:

    Dinner looked awesome. Jealous of your Fall leaves. ;) Here in the Sacramento Region we’re waiting for the leaves to turn as well as some much missed rain.

  19. VancFoodie says:

    Your lovely recipe will be my Sunday dinner next week! I’m feeling exactly as you do … faint yearnings for sqash, chanterelles and pears but not ready to break up with August’s bounty just yet. My “summer’s last hurrah” last Sunday was grilled pork tenderloin, zuchini, eggplant and peppers (brushed with balsamic, dijon, evoo, garlic, shallot, basil) and for dessert a plum & lemon zest clafouti. Thank heaven for good friends who’ll all do the grilling for me … out in the rain, no less!

  20. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    We both posted black cod at the same time :) Gosh I love that fish. I interchangeably call it Butter Fish—-is that correct too? Your dinner looks amazing. Plated with those fresh veggies it is just gorgeous. The Fall leaves are splendid. That yellow is so vivid. I wanted to see the foliage last year in T-ride, but made it out mid October just before the last leaves were on the ground. Kaweah is such a cutey, give him a squeeze for me. xo

  21. cindy says:

    Love that combination of summer vegetables. Good with browned butter too.

    Huh. No fall colors in the land of the redwoods. I’ll have to settle for your pics.

  22. Diane and Todd says:

    omg, those fall colors! spectacular and you captured them so well as always! It’s always nice to come to your blog to experience the best of Autumn colors.
    Yikes, sorry to hear about your basement! Is all the gear ok?
    Me wants some of that amazing seafood right now. Serious craving from that olive oil shot!
    hugs to you three, esp clean Kaweah, so pretty! smell so good too. xoxoxo

  23. Jenny Nguyen says:

    I’m planning to make this on Wednesday night!

  24. Drum roll: It’s Mikee’s debut week! « Food from Luke, Bill, Kylie & Jenny says:

    […] Wednesday: Mikee’s cooking again! He’s making pan seared cod with summer vegetables, a recipe we found on Tastespotting from Use Real Butter. […]

  25. Mary Whitlow says:

    I wish it was easier to print recipe. I can wait to try Pan seared black cod with summer veggies. Your pics are beatiful. Thank you, Mary

  26. Angie's Recipes says:

    How I wish to have some of this to bid the farewell to summer! Stunning!

  27. Aran says:

    jen, this is just making me want to jump on a plane right now. that’s all.

  28. jenyu says:

    Gali – because she’s a bad girl ;)

    Jamie – ha ha ha!

    Asha – that’s what Colorado fall is in the mountains, if you time it right!

    Carrie – someday I hope to get around to updating my stupid gallery ;) Probably this winter.

    TKW – thank you, sweetheart.

    Marla – I don’t know what else it is called, but the texture IS rather buttery, isn’t it? I love it. Yeah, the timing on the leaves in Telluride and surrounding areas is quite finicky… Maybe next time :) xo

    Cindy – maybe you should just come on out here to see them for yourselves? Then stay to ski :)

    Diane & Todd – the gear is fine, just some empty boxes got recycled. xo

    Mary – just highlight what you like, copy using keystrokes (CMD-C on mac or CTRL-C on PC) and paste into any wordprocessing software.

  29. Emmabeth says:

    Your photos are unfreaking real. :) Amazing work!

  30. Zucchini and Sweet Corn With Black Cod « Eatincalgary's Blog says:

    […] also very colorful! I was looking for a good recipe for black code fillets when I stumbled across Use real butter’s blog post – scroll down for the full recipe.  Here’s what you need for the zucchini and […]

  31. Druthers Restaurant Week « Albany Eats! says:

    […] The fry job was a bit oily and greasy on the cod, so the thick batter wasn’t the most pleasant thing to eat; I picked all of the cod out of the batter. I didn’t see any pancetta on the plate. Maybe it was left off, or was another misprint. I think pan-seared would have been a much more enjoyable preparation method. Use Real Butter didn’t seem to have any issue with her cod falling apart when pan searing. […]

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