serves: 2 servings
Fresh cod fillets are flaky and sweet and a favorite in my family for baking or broiling. In summer, I love thick cod steaks, cooked on the grill. Unlike more common fish cut for steaks-tuna, swordfish, shark and others with firm texture-the softer flesh of cod can be a challenge to the griller, sometimes sticking to the rack or flaking apart. These problems are lessened by tying the steaks with twine, marinating in garlic oil, and by searing them on a hot clean grill. But even if you lose the perfect appearance or a flake of fish tears off, cod steaks are so sweet and delicious when grilled, it's worth it.
2 cod steaks, 1-1/2 inches thick
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ cup garlic-infused oil
To keep the steaks from falling apart, fold the long thin end pieces-the belly flaps-inward to form a compact round of flesh. Tie a length of kitchen twine in a loop around the outside band of skin of the fish securing the flaps within, pull to tighten, and knot it securely.
Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt, coat with garlic oil, and place in a dish with a few garlic slices and the herb stems strewn over them. Marinate for an hour or two at room temperature or longer, refrigerated.
Preheat the clean rack of a grill over high heat until very hot. Just before putting on the fish, rub the grill with an oiled towel or piece of pork fat. Wipe excess garlic oil off the steaks and set them on the grill.
Sear the steaks without moving them for 4 to 5 minutes. Brush the tops with garlic oil. If the fish isn't sticking, check the cooked undersides and flip the steaks over as soon as the grill marks are golden brown. If the flesh sticks, grill another minute to sear, and then turn them over, using a sharp-edged broad metal spatula if necessary, to separate the flesh from the grill.
Grill to mark the second side, 3 to 4 minutes; brush the top side with a small amount of garlic oil and lower heat to medium. If the flesh is not sticking, you can make cross-hatch grill marks if you wish: lift the steak after 3 minutes, rotate it 90 degrees or so in relation to the grill rack, and then lower it on the same side.
When the second side has grilled for 4 minutes or more, check for doneness by feel and sight: when the exterior flakes and the center of the steak is opaque but moist (push aside the flesh with a knife blade to see inside) remove them to a platter.
Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with garlic oil. Serve right away with sauce on the side or top with spoonfuls of sauce salsa verde, or drizzle salmoriglio or just a plain slice of lemon and some extra virgin olive oil.