Monday, January 13, 2014

Herb-Crusted Cod with Lemon-Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce

What’s wonderful about this dish is that its name alone sounds as if you’ve gone to an inordinate amount of trouble making it.  In reality, it’s one of the easiest things on earth to get on the table.  This recipe is as close as I could come to a dish that’s an all-time favorite at Sag Harbor’s “Dockside” restaurant.  Now “Dockside” at 26 Bay Street (Tel: 631-725-7100) is an anomaly. It’s situated in one half of the American Legion Hall. Dockside’s bar is decorated with the crests of the service branches the Legion represents.  Believe it or not, there’s a dearth of places in the Hamptons with water views.  While Dockside is not port side, it is right across the road from the yachts and sailboats moored and docked at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club.  It has an outdoor
terrace that’s a wonderful place for lunch on a sunny day. And for small town Americana, what could beat the Sag Harbor Community Band’s Tuesday night concerts?  These are held directly in front of the Legion every Tuesday in July and August. If you’ve lucky enough to snag a table at Dockside, which does not take reservations, you’ll be serenaded with rousing music in the style of John Phillip Sousa. “Dockside” is a second generation restaurant owned by Stacy Sheehan’s father before Stacy took over and transformed the place from a hamburger joint into a really great place to eat wonderful local food.  Among the offerings is a version of Herb-Crusted Cod with Lemon Beurre Blanc.  Now that Dockside has closed down for the season and won’t reopen until February 13 th, I couldn’t wait to make this at home.  But first, of course, I had to check on the cod.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I use every time I go to prepare fish.  This site, from the Monterrey Bay aquarium, is an invaluable source of information about fish.  What to buy, what to avoid, what’s good for you, what’s good for the oceans is all there. You can even get a free app for your phone when you’re eating out.   Quite honestly, the Cod section is hard work to understand.  Atlantic Cod, one of the most reliable and largest fish colonies, has been overfished to the point where it was almost an endangered species off our shores.  However, most cod, including the fish I bought, are now imported from Iceland and Northeast Arctic from an abundance of fish and sustainable ways to catch them.  In fact, rates them as a “Best Choice”. But it’s certainly ‘best’ to inquire about their origins.  In this case, it was full speed ahead. 

I bought 1 lb of the fish for the un-heard-of price of $7.99 lb.
I got a filet that was over an inch thick and cut that into equal sized pieces.  The bread crumb mixture was a snap to make in the Cuisinart. Fresh breadcrumbs are combined with parsley, garlic and lemon zest.  I banked the breadcrumbs on the fish and into the oven it went. While it cooked, I made the Lemon-Dill Beurre Blanc. If you’re intimidated by sauces, don’t be by this one.  What’s essential is to reduce the starting ingredients – shallots and white wine—down to almost a trace amount.  Then the butter gets added and the sauce thickens. The rest of the ingredients are added and Voila! Your fish has a delicious sauce. While I cut the fish recipe in half for the two of us, I made the entire recipe for the Lemon-Dill Beurre Blanc.  There’s just never enough sauce! Since “Dockside” serves theirs with sautéed spinach and potatoes, I saw no need to alter the formula for this quick and delicious meatless Monday meal.  Here are the recipes:

Recipe for Herb Crusted Cod
Prep Time 10 minutes. Cooking Time 15 minutes. Serves 4.

1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
1 tbsp. Olive Oil 
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic
1 lemon, zested
Coarse salt
4 (6 to 8-ounce) cod fillets
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place bread crumbs parsley, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, and a little coarse salt in the Cuisinart with the steel bland attached. Process briefly.

Brush the top of each fillet with olive oil and put the bread crumb mixture atop each fillet. Brush a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a baking pan then place fillet in the pan, crust side up. Roast fillets in oven until firm to the touch, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe for Lemon-Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce.
Makes ¾ cup. Serves 4. Takes 15 minutes to make start to finish.

1 cup dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
         1 large shallot, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
         4 oz. (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
         3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
         2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
         2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, more to taste
         Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the wine and shallot in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the wine almost evaporates and looks glazy, 5 to 8 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter a couple of cubes at a time until melted and the sauce is thick and creamy; briefly return the pan to low heat if the butter is slow to melt.

Off the heat, stir in the dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and several grinds of pepper. Season to taste with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pass the sauce when you serve the fish. 


  1. Love the recipe. Made it with mahi mahi instead of cod because I got the mahi on sale for $4.99 a pound. Simple and quick but elegant enough for company. The sauce makes the dish! Thanks Monte for another great recipe.

    1. So pleased you liked it Lauren. We should all be eating more fish and this is a great way to do it.