Move Over Halibut

Lime-Glazed Cod with Triple-Pepper Tomato Sauce

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I used to turn up my nose at cod and other more humble types of whitefish (1) in favor of halibut, but wild fish have their seasons, and winter is time for cod.  It’s a downright bargain, too, in terms of both the price (2) and nutrition:  A 3-ounce serving delivers 90 calories, 19 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat.  Even if you eat twice that much, as most are likely to do, it’s a steal. And you can enjoy Alaskan cod with a clean conscience.  The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute  says that cod “is naturally abundant and sustainable” due to their fisheries management practices. 

Cod’s sweet, mild flavor steered me to Mexico for seasoning. Short on time, I decided to broil the fish and then top it with a stove-simmered tomato sauce flavored with roasted red bell pepper, two types of jalapenos, lime, oregano and cumin. I wanted another layer of flavor directly on the fish while it broiled, so I whisked together a glaze with a third type of jalapeno, ground dried chipotle (smoked jalapeno).

For my side dish I chose quinoa, of Latin American origins, as it cooks in only 15 minutes.  I blended black quinoa with the more common cream-colored quinoa, rinsed them well and cooked then in chicken broth.  (I use a 1 to 1.5 ratio of grain to liquid for quinoa cooking.) The results were just what I wanted – a fun, speckled quinoa combo, with a nutty flavor and texture to complement the cod.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Serving suggestions?  The photos show it plated conventionally with a salad, and wrapped in a sprouted grain tortilla with the black & tan quinoa and a dollop of sour cream (reduced-fat).


1. Whitefish, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, comprises Alaska Pollock, Halibut, Sole, Cod, and Black Cod.

2. I found cod for about $5.99/pound at my local Costco warehouse in Issaquah.  The fish was just as pristine as cod I purchased recently at the Pike Place Market but at a much lower price. To insure fresh fish I handle seafood with care and respect. I start with asking questions of the fishmonger or checking the pack and use-by dates before making a purchase, keep the fish well-chilled at all times (usually there’s an ice chest in my car) and cook it promptly.  

More on Seafood Nutrition  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and other health organizations recommend that we consume two seafood meals weekly. For more information visit  Seafood Health Facts . 

Lime Glazed Cod with Triple-Pepper Tomato Sauce

 If you think all the peppers will make this dish too hot, adjust the quantities to suit your taste. Fresh jalapenos vary in heat level – many are mild and taste more like a green bell pepper.  You can also substitute mild chili powder for the ground chipotle and reduce the amount of pickled jalapenos.  But don’t omit them entirely as they give the dish a nice tang.   

2 1/2 pounds fresh cod filets

Lime-Chili Glaze:

4 teaspoons lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt or salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin seed

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper

Triple-Pepper Tomato Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped white part of green onions or shallot

1 to 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped peeled roasted red bell pepper (drained if purchased in a jar)

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped, drained pickled jalapenos

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Thinly sliced green onion tops, fresh chopped cilantro or a combination

Combine Glaze ingredients and set aside.  For Sauce, heat a large skillet on medium- low or medium heat.  Add white part of green onion, fresh jalapeno and garlic. Cook, stirring often, till onion is soft.  Stir in cumin.  Add tomatoes with liquid, chopped bell pepper and oregano.  Stir well, cover and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, lowering heat as needed.  Stir in pickled jalapenos and lime juice. If you prefer a thicker sauce, remove cover and simmer gently to reduce. Remove from heat and keep warm. To cook fish, place a metal heat-proof rack over a baking sheet (line sheet with foil for easy clean-up).  Coat rack with nonstick spray. Place fish filets on rack and brush with glaze.  Broil, 4 to 5 inches from heat, for 5 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes and is opaque throughout.  To serve, place fish on warm platter, top with sauce and sprinkle with cilantro and/or green onion.  Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2012

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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