Fruit with fish was never my favorite partnership until I came across this recipe.  It seems that the acid in wine and orange juice, backed by the zip of Dijon mustard, provides just the balance needed for the sweetness in fruit. Encouraged, I tried an alternative mix of cucumber with strawberries seasoned with balsamic vinegar, with equal success.  Neither takes more than 10 minutes to make, so I invite you to take a gamble and see if our tastes agree. You’ll find any firm fish is good cooked this way, including salmon and monkfish.

Serves 4

  • 250ml/8fl oz/1 cup Chardonnay or Semillon white wine
  • 3 tablespoons honey mustard
  • 175ml/6fl oz/¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 portions cod fillet (about 675g/1½lb)
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing

For the Tropical Fruit Salsa:

  • 1 small ripe mango
  • 1 small papaya (avocado size)
  • 2 navel oranges
  • medium bunch of basil (about 40g/1½oz)

1. Light the barbecue.  Whisk the wine, mustard and orange juice in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.  Lay the cod on a large piece of heavy-duty foil and fold up the sides. Brush the fish with oil, then pour over two thirds of the marinade. Seal the foil. When the grill is hot, set the cod package to cook, allowing 10-12 minutes for pieces that are 2.5cm/1in thick.

2.  Meanwhile make the salsa: Pare the peel from the mango and cut the flesh from the pit. Dice the flesh and put it in a bowl. Halve the papaya and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut away the skin, dice the flesh and add it to the mango. Cut the peel, pith and skin away from the oranges and scoop out the segments.  Dice them and add to the other fruit. Pour over the remaining marinade.  Shred the basil leaves, reserving 4 sprigs for garnish. Stir the shredded basil into the salsa, taste and adjust the seasoning.

3. To finish: Open the cod package and test the fish pieces with a fork – they should just flake easily. Transfer them to warm individual plates, spoon the salsa on the side, and top with a basil sprig.

Getting Ahead: Fruit salsa keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours, but roast the fish only just before serving.

On the Side: For the perfect summer supper, you could barbecue garden tomatoes and corn on the cob, side by side with the cod. (In winter, simply roast the foil package of fish in a 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 oven.)
Barbecued Tomatoes: Halve the tomatoes through the “equator” and sprinkle cut sides with salt, pepper and a little sugar. Set the tomatoes, cut sides down, on an oiled barbecue rack and grill until the juices run, 5-8 minutes. Turn them over and continue cooking until tender.  Cooking time depends on their size and ripeness.
Barbecued Corn on the Cob: Strip back husks on the corn cobs and discard the silk. Brush the corn with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and fold back husks to cover the ears. Roast on a barbecue, turning the corn often, until the kernels detach easily when tested with a knife, 10-15 minutes, depending on the heat of the fire.

In the Glass: Some more of that full-bodied Chardonnay or Semillon you’ve added to the marinade.

Strawberry and Cucumber Salsa: This odd-sounding combination is utterly delicious with fish.
Peel half an English cucumber, halve it and scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves lengthwise in strips, then crosswise in small dice and mix with ½ teaspoon salt. Leave 10-15 minutes to draw out juices. Hull 110g/4oz/1 pint strawberries, washing only if they are sandy. Slice and put them in a bowl with 2 scallions, sliced with the green tops. Rinse the cucumber, drain on paper towels and mix with the strawberries. Stir in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons chopped mint or parsley. Season to taste with sugar, salt, and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Makes 500ml/16fl oz/2 cups salsa to serve 4.

From Good Food No Fuss by Anne Willan, 2003
Photo CREDIT: Simon Wheeler