Cod with prawns in a citrus buerre blanc

16 December 2017

Tonight I got presented with some key ingredients, and invited to cook a dish from them. The ingredients were sustainably-sourced cod loin, and prawns.

I learned to cook by following recipes, but there comes a time where you have learned enough techniques and enough flavour matchings to just get one and come up with something when you have to. That’s something I’ve started to do more and more with this blog, and it’s the way of the future for sure. Learn the techniques, learn the principles, and then you can cook just about anything.

I’m some way away from that ideal, but I think I could manage some cod and prawns. I decided to do something with a citrus theme to match the seafood, and after some reflection decided to go for a buerre blanc.

The first ‘foodie’ cookbook I ever used was Raymond Blanc’s “Cooking for Friends”. I bought that several decades ago - when I was a vegetarian and couldn’t cook most of the things in it. But I loved the ethos of the thing - the devotion to fine food (remember, I was a child of the eighties brought up on Cadbury’s Smash and industrial block cheese). Some years later when I finally cast aside the vegetarian commitment, it was one of the first places I turned. Indeed, I committed one year to cook everything in it. 

And that’s when I first cooked a buerre blanc sauce. Rather a lot of the sauces in that book involved whisking cold cubed butter in right at the end, so I generally got the hang of it - something that’s hard to do from following a recipe, but comes naturally from repetition. And then, in more recent times, I’d been following the very sensible trend of less heavy sauces. But - I just thought that this might be the dish to reintroduce the buerre blanc back into the repertoire - and if following a citrus theme, then why not an orange buerre blanc?

So this is the dish I cooked. I wanted to do a celeriac mash with it, but I only had potato. And it was all pretty delicious. And particularly that sauce. I’m going to have to get back into running several times a week, because I’m pretty sure there are more buerre blanc sauces in my short-term future.

Cod with prawns in a citrus buerre blanc

Most of this dish gets pulled together at the last minute, so make sure you get the things that can be done in advance done - which is the sauce base, and the mashed potato.

Serves: 2

2 cod loin fillets
160g raw King Prawns
4 florets broccoli
100g green beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the citrus buerre blanc sauce

350ml fish stock
2 oranges, juice
150g cold butter, cubed
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the mashed potato

2 large Maris Piper or similar potatoes
100g butter
200ml whole milk


Most of this dish gets pulled together at the last minute, so make sure you get the things that can be done in advance done - which is the sauce base, and the mashed potato. 

Start with the potato. Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks (about 3cm - but it’s not precise - in that ball park will do). Boil them gently until tender, then drain them and leave for a few minutes for the last bits of moisture to steam off. Then put them through a potato ricer or mash them with a masher. Add the butter, cut up a little so it melts quicker, and the milk. Mix together until smooth. If you want super smooth mashed potato - and generally I do - then push it through a sieve at this point. Then season with salt and pepper to taste. You can do that in advance, and then leave to reheat gently just before serving.

For the sauce, gently sautée the shallots in a pan with the oil until softened. Then add the fish stock and the orange juice and bring up to a steady boil. Keep this going for a good 15 minutes or so, until the liquid has reduced down to about a quarter. 

Half way through that period, put the broccoli on to steam or boil.

When the orange and fish stock is fully reduced, put the cod into a frying pan on a medium heat with half of the oil to cook. The pan should be hot enough so it sizzles from the moment you put it in - but not fiercely hot.

As soon as you do that, begin whisking the butter into the sauce, a couple of cubes at a time. Keep whisking, and the sauce should gradually thicken. Halfway through, add the green beans to the pot with the broccoli, and carefully turn the cod fillets over. Add the prawns to a smaller frying pan over a medium high heat and the rest of the oil. Cook them, moving around a couple of times during cooking, until they go pink and there is no translucent flesh remaining.

While that’s happening, keep adding the remaining butter, and whisking. You should end up with a thick, slightly translucent sauce. Once the prawns are cooked, add them to the buerre blanc - the sauce with turn more buttery in colour, and stir to fully immerse them.

To serve up, put a ladle of potato onto the plate, top with the green beans and then the cod, and then spread the prawn buerre blanc around with the brocolli.

Food waste notes

There shouldn’t be much waste from this recipe. You will have some broccoli left, so add that to the next couple of meals, or freeze it if you can’t. Job done.