After a successful forage around Bradgate Park for those elusive Wild Garlic leaves, I had to come to a decision about what to make. Many recipes in my collection pair fish along with Wild Garlic so I had the idea of fish, vegetables and perhaps some Wild Garlic butter – sound’s alright, doesn’t it?
This post is a lot shorter than my regular offerings – mainly as I was too excited/pushed for time trying to prepare the garlic butter. For this recipe you will need:
2 Cod Loin Steaks, skinless
8 Asparagus Spears (get the chunkiest ones you can find)
8 Chestnut Mushrooms, or other wild mushrooms will work too
150g Butter, unsalted
150ml Chicken stock, from a cube is fine
20 Wild Garlic leaves, washed
To begin with, you need to make the garlic butter. Dice up the butter and add it to a bowl, allowing the butter to come up to room temperature. This makes it easier to beat in the Wild Garlic.
Once soft, really finely chop 10 of the Wild Garlic leaves and add to the butter. Season with a little salt and beat with a wooden spoon until everything is combined. Roll the butter into a log using cling film and leave in the fridge until needed.
Now preheat your oven to 220C. Place the chicken stock into a pan over a high heat to reduce by around two thirds (I added a chopped mushroom and a few leaves of Wild Garlic into the stock to infuse but this is entirely optional). While the stock bubbles away, prepare the vegetables.
Slice the asparagus spears in half down the middle, turning one large spear into two. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and roughly chop the remaining Wild Garlic. Bring a large non-stick pan to a medium-high heat and drizzle in a little olive oil.
Once heated, add in the mushrooms and cook until browned. Take the asparagus and toss into the pan. At this point you’re looking for the asparagus just to lose that rigid texture and soften a little. Add in the reduced chicken stock and continue to cook until you have a thickened sauce consistency. Keep warm.
Heat an ovenproof non-stick pan over a high heat and once hot, drizzle in a little olive oil. Season the cod with salt and lay the fish into the pan. Fry continuously on the one side for around 2-3 minutes before transferring the fish to the oven.
Depending on the thickness, the cod should take around 7-10 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the centre – if there is no resistance then the fish is cooked. Normally you can tell by the colour and also the definition of the flakes but the skewer test is a good way to confirm that it’s cooked.
Heat up the asparagus and mushrooms over a medium heat, add in the remaining Wild Garlic leaves and a knob of the Wild Garlic butter. Shake the pan around to emulsify the juices into a rich sauce. Once the leaves have wilted and the juices have come together to make a silky sauce – you’re good to go.
You can also keep the remaining butter by cutting it into large chunks, wrapping each piece in cling film and storing in the freezer.
Simply portion out the vegetables onto plates, top with the cod – which should have a crispy, golden edge from the pan. Then finally pour around some of the pan juices to round off a cracking dish.
Cooking fish this way I learned from the fantastic Bruce’s Cookbook by Bruce Poole of the London restaurant Chez Bruce. This book is a must for anyone who has even the slightest interest in cooking. The fish was just as amazing as in the book, crispy on the outside with a soft, flaking texture. Beautiful.
I’ve never really foraged before but i’m more than tempted to forage again. The freshness of the Wild Garlic in both leaf and butter forms was exceptional. Kind of a blend between garlic, shallots, onions and leeks. All for free! With the asparagus and mushrooms swimming in that buttery sauce, this dish got a well deserved thumbs up.
I really hope you can locate some Wild Garlic near you, I used this map in order to track some down. It really was so worth doing and there’s countless other dishes that this awesome ingredient can be deployed in. Happy foraging!