Cod with toasted almonds


If an email sounds too good to be true, it’s probably from a scam artist calling himself a Nigerian prince. But once in a while, it’s for real. In my case, it dropped in my inbox from Nigella Lawson. The popular British journalist and purveyor of recipes presented a recipe that sounded both absurdly easy and delicious. I assure you, it was indeed both. I left the store at 7 PM and was eating by 7:30. I couldn’t have cooked dinner faster unless I wrapped it in foil and rested it on the manifold of my car’s engine on the way home.

In this case, sautéing was the next best thing. It’s a fast way to cook certain fish while allowing it to retain its succulence. Cod is a perfect choice, especially here with a quick spin in browned butter. And at $2.67 for a six-ounce filet, I was actually able to pay cash for once.


1/2 cup sliced almonds

3 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 6-ounce cod fillets (or any other meaty white fish), with skin

 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


1. Place a large dry nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add almonds. Stir constantly until they are tinged with color. Take from heat, and transfer to a bowl to cool.

2. Season both sides of the fish well with salt and pepper. Place the same pan over medium heat, and add butter and olive oil. When both begin to bubble, add cod fillets skin side up. Brown fish until opaque all the way through, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer fish to a warm serving plate, skin side down.

3. Reduce heat under pan to low, and add lemon juice. Stir to blend with butter and oil, then pour this sauce over fillets. Scatter parsley over cod, and scatter with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

In my case, I didn’t even bother removing the almonds from the pan; I just pushed them to the side, and then scraped the whole flavorful butter-almond-lemon mess onto the fish at the end. Finish with some fresh chopped parsley, add a steamed vegetable, and dinner is done.

A note on browning butter: it’s a bit of a technique; keep the heat modest and when it begins to foam, watch it carefully. The touch of olive oil helps it heat uniformly, and the gentle browning gives it a lovely nutty taste that complements the almonds, especially with that kiss of lemon.

It’s also a very healthy meal, so splurge and get yourself some ice cream for dessert. Maybe that Nigerian prince can help you come up with some cash for that treat.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht & Roumel, PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. Follow him at @nickroumel.