Fishy Alternative

Cod with Chorizo Mussels and Saffron Aioli

By now you’ve eaten just about all the turkey, or roast, or whatever it is you eat over the holidays – that you can stand, right? I mean, I do love me some sweet potato casserole, and I thoroughly enjoy being torn in three over all the pie choices. I can’t imagine skipping Aunt Faye’s chicken pastry, cornbread, and homemade buttermilk biscuits although I easily skip over the collard greens, as I have managed to do for 29 years now. Our families could feed a small village with all the sweets they prepare (not to mention the biscotti I made which is only slightly addictive), and let’s just say that the amount of treats I consume is no small accomplishment either.


But when it comes right down to it, as good as the holiday food is, for me there’s no better feeling than whipping up a special meal at home. And after all the poultry and beef I’m sure we’ve all consumed these past few weeks I have to admit I’m more than ready to veer away from the land animals for just a bit. (And I mean just a bit). That being said, I think it’s time to take a lil’ dip into the ocean. I found the perfect dish for you – one I’ve been meaning to share for quite some time now.

'imported' Spanish chorizo
Not to worry – ocean creatures are very friendly with chorizo. And where there’s Spanish chorizo, there’s usually some saffron floating around too. This here folks, this is no different. And it’s mighty fine. Mighty fine indeed.

saffron-infused lime juice

I know many of you will scoff at the dishes that have multiple components. This is totally one of them. But wait! I’m sure you’ll change your mind when I tell you one of those components is a few big fat egg-soaked sourdough croutons and one of the others is saffron mayo. Yes, saffron! and, mayo! and croutons! You’ll forget you’re eating fish – not that eating fish is a bad thing, but it isn’t pork stew, that’s for sure :). But this fishy dish? This one is rich and hearty enough to make you think you’re eating that stew again – a perfect seafood recipe for the cold nights.

awesome sourdough croutons
You know what’s also awesome about the croutons and mayo? They can both easily be used again, so you’re really doubling up on the fantasticness. The croutons are great in any soup or stew I can think of and can sop up those juices with grace. The mayo – oh boy – a perfect addition to a sandwich or burger – especially a chickpea-pesto burger with arugula. The rest of the dish is fairly easy, so if you remind yourself of the wonderful recycling properties of croutons and saffron mayo, you’ve got yourself one great meal and a whole lotta repeat variety to boot.

cod with aioli

Cod with Mussels, Chorizo, Fried Croutons & Saffron Mayonnaise
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2009; serves 4

printable version


saffron mayo
1.5 t fresh lime juice
pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T evoo
1/4 t hot pepper sauce

2 T olive oil
1/4 c chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 t dried crushed red pepper
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 c dry white wine
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 c smoked Spanish chorizo, diced
1/4 c finely diced seeded tomato
1/4 c finely diced roasted red pepper from jar
1 T chopped fresh parsley

fried croutons
2 large eggs
1/2 c low fat milk
1/4 t cayenne pepper
12 1-inch torn pieces sourdough bread (5 oz)

1 8 oz bottle clam juice
1 c dry white wine
1 12-oz cod fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces
2 T olive oil

saffron mayonaise
Mix lime juice and saffron in small bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in mayonnaise, oil, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and chill at least 4 hours to allow flavors to develop. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, crushed red pepper, and saffron and sauté 4 minutes. Add wine; bring to boil. Add mussels and thyme; cover and cook until mussels open, about 5 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open). Strain mussel broth into large saucepan; add chorizo, tomato, roasted pepper, and parsley to liquid. Remove mussels from shells. DO AHEAD: Mussels and cooking broth can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.

fried croutons
Pour enough oil into heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 3 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan. Heat oil to 350°F. Whisk eggs, milk, and cayenne in large bowl. Add bread; stir to coat. Let soak 2 minutes. Drain off excess liquid. Working in batches, add bread to hot oil and cook until brown, turning as necessary, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and drain.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring clam juice and wine to simmer in small saucepan. Pour into 7×5-inch baking dish. Add cod pieces to dish; sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil. Bake until fish is opaque in center, basting with poaching liquid twice, about 8 minutes.

Bring mussel broth to simmer. Add mussels and heat through. Divide mussels and broth among 4 shallow soup bowls. Top each with piece of cod, 3 croutons, and dollop of saffron mayonnaise.

5 thoughts on “Fishy Alternative

  1. Ummm…WOW. This looks awesome. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who comsumed copious amounts of sweets and treats over the holidays. You’ve sold me on this one with the saffron mayo – yum.

  2. Thanks Susan!

    @Jenn: the saffron mayo really is key here. and it’s easy to make. I didn’t use all of it and saved some for burgers and it was awesome!

    @Emily: I definitely do! With recipes like this, it’s hard to leave things out b/c you know what each component contributes to the dish and if you leave a piece out it changes the entire outcome. it definitely different than tweaking ingredients and adding a personal touch. and yeah, mussels from WF. I’ve bought them at Dirks before too though – just get them the day you use them!

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