Booking the Cooks: Fred Cooke's smoked cod with hipster BLT
Fred Cooke, comedian, actor, writer of musicals and lover of Chinese Food. Such is his obsession with this cuisine, that he has on occasion dined at a Chinese restaurant with a friend for lunch, headed back there again for dinner and then once more for a late-night snack. The Kells native left home quite a few years ago. But he was recently back on native soil and decided to order a delivery. Before he even had a chance to say hello, the lady on the other line said, “Crispy Duck Cantonese style with fried rice?”
When I heard that his first Vicar Street show was entitled Ready Steady Cooke,
I knew an interview had to be arranged. And while I may have chatted to numerous comedians over the years with a keen culinary sense, none has actually borrowed a TV cookery show name for their own.
The dish Fred shared with me is a delicately fragrant piece of cod cooked perfectly in stock. But ever the comedian, he managed to inject some humour into it by calling the quite delicious tower of roasted beetroot, leeks and tomato a “Hipster BLT”. He assured me he did it purely for comic value but it’s actually bang-on tasty.
Modest, funny and he can cook too. Maybe the good folk in Montrose should talk to Fred about shooting a pilot for Ready Steady Cooke.
1 naturally smoked cod fillet
9 baby potatoes
250ml of chicken stock
4 cloves of crushed garlic
2 fresh basil leaves
1 buffalo tomato
1 cooked and slice beetroot
1 stick of leek, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons of butter
½ teaspoon of white pepper
Set your oven to 160 degrees and heat up the chicken stock. Roll a piece of tin foil onto the baking tray. Season the cod with the pepper, half of the garlic and basil leaves.
Place the fish onto the tin foil and start making a poaching pocket around the fish by bringing all the corners of the tin foil toward the centre. When all corners are upright, pour in the chicken stock onto the fish and then roll the top together to create a seal. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam your baby potatoes for 10 minutes till done and get your BLT ready. Slice the tomato in half and rub it in a little olive oil and place the rest of the garlic on the tomato with some salt and pepper. Roast it in the oven for 10 minutes and then for another five with a slice of beetroot on each half.
Fry your leeks in one tablespoon of butter and then place them on top of the beetroot. When the fish is cooked, drain the liquid into a pan with remaining butter and melt it all through to pour on your spuds. Plate a piece of fish, alongside the BLT and potatoes.