Puffed wild rice and the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout turn simple breaded Pacific cod into a dish worthy of date night. To avoid overpowering the delicate flavor of the cod, the fish is only breaded on one side. Bittersweet apple and endive salad with a sharp mustard vinaigrette balances the nutty notes of the wild rice and the warmth of ras el hanout. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your sweetie by puffing the rice and toasting the hazelnuts a day ahead.
- Apple Salad with Mustard Dressing:
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ras el hanout (substitute with mild curry powder or garam masala)
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 heads Belgian endive, picked into individual leaves and washed (substitute with romaine, arugula, or frisée)
- 2 large Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples, sliced into thin matchsticks
- ¼ cup picked tarragon leaves
- ¼ cup finely chopped chives
- ½ cup shaved aged cheddar
- Wild Rice Crusted Cod:
- Canola oil, enough to fill ½ inch of a large skillet, plus 2 tablespoons
- ¾ cups uncooked wild rice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 (6-ounce) portions Pacific cod
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon ras el hanout
Preheat oven to 350°F and place a rack in the middle. On a sheet pan, place one layer of hazelnuts and toast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Remove from oven and wrap nuts in a kitchen towel to steam for 1 minute. Rub nuts in the towel to remove most of the skins. Set aside to cool completely, then chop coarsely.
Make apple salad
In a medium mixing bowl, combine shallot, mustard, apple cider vinegar, pepper, ras el hanout, and a pinch of salt. Slowly whisk in oil until well mixed. Alternatively, you can add all ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. (Vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days.) In a large mixing bowl, gently toss cleaned endive leaves, apples, tarragon, chives, and toasted hazelnuts. Be careful not to bruise the endive leaves. Chill in refrigerator while you make the fish.
Make puffed wild rice
Add half of the rice and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the wild rice has puffed and is golden brown. Remove rice with a slotted spoon and transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining wild rice. In a food processor, add puffed rice and pulse into a coarse powder.
Prepare the fish
Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs and water. In a medium bowl, add flour and ras el hanout and stir to combine. In another medium bowl, add puffed wild rice powder.
Dredge the fish
With one piece of cod at a time, lightly coat in flour, then dip just one side into the eggs. Lastly, dip the same side with the egg coating in the puffed wild rice powder.
Fry the fish
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Fry 2 pieces of cod at a time, starting with the breaded side first, until flaky and opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and cool, breaded side up on a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt to taste.
Gently toss mustard vinaigrette with the apple salad. Serve salad alongside fish and garnish with shaved sharp cheddar and a drizzle of olive oil.