Of all my reliable standbys, this is one of my speediest. Of course there’s more to it. I’m too greedy to settle for mere efficiency. I first made this with some smoked haddock which I’d been thinking of using for a kedgeree, but I ran out of steam — and time. My thinking was that replacing the starch of the rice with the starch of some cannellini beans would work. It did. Indeed it worked so well, I can now never be without some canned cannellini in the cupboard.
Inspiration doesn’t tell the whole story, as the dish that follows bears no relation at all to kedgeree, being rather more Italianate than Anglo-Indian in its flavor. The spontaneity of end-of-the-day cooking means — however I might mean to plan — that this is, in culinary terms, sui generis.
But then I take the view that most of the best things in life are happy accidents.
Yield: Serves 2
12 oz smoked cod (or haddock) fillet
small sprig parsley including stalks
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 celery stalk
1 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup white wine
2 14-oz cans/3½ cups cannellini beans
¼–½ cup fish-cooking liquid (see 3rd paragraph, below)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives, optional
Lay the fish fillets in a large frying pan with the sprig of parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, and celery stalk. Pour in the water and wine and bring to a boil.
Cover the pan with foil and simmer the fish in the poaching liquid for 3–5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Take off the heat and remove the fish, wrapping the pieces in foil to keep warm.
Tip out all but about ¼–½ cup of the poaching liquid from the pan. This will depend on the depth of your pan.
Drain the canned beans, rinsing them in a sieve or colander to get rid of any gloopiness and add to the pan, warming them in the poaching liquid for about 3 minutes. (Add a little more poaching liquid if necessary to moisten the beans.)
Turn off the heat and place the fish on top of the beans in the pan. Add the oil, most of the parsley, and the chives, if you’re using them, stirring everything together, breaking up the fish as you go.
Check the seasoning and turn out into a couple of bowls or plates, sprinkle with a last bit of parsley, and eat, with relish.