Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Baked Cod Fish Balls

One pound of Black Cod
One of the things I really enjoy about our service from SLO Veg, where we get a tote box full of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables delivered to our door on a bi-weekly schedule, is the fish component. SLO Veg has partnered with SLO Fresh Catch to offer its customers fresh, locally caught ocean fish from the fisheries off Morro Bay.

Fish balls on a platter
Recipe from "The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine
This week's fish was Black Cod. We get a lot of cod fish: Black cod, Rock cod, Ling cod. Its a good white fish with thick fillets and we get one pound with our delivery. The problem is, there are still some pin bones in the fish that you have to watch out for when you eat it. I prefer the swordfish or tuna or Thresher shark steaks we get on occasion, because they don't have those small bones, and they are thick and dense and meaty, kind of like a beef steak.

But I keep trying the cod. Today I found a recipe in my Ukrainian Cuisine cookbook that solves the pin bone problem by grinding up the raw fish and making little fish balls out of it. I had just picked up a food processor and wanted to try it out, so this was perfect. The recipe is called, "Fish Balls from Cod and Farmer Cheese", and includes the title spelled out in Ukrainian, if you are adept at reading Ukrainian. I am not. I only know who to write "Xpuctoc Bockpec", which sounds like Khrystos Voskres, which translates in English to "Christ is Risen", because my mother would write that in colored icing on her Easter paska.

I am hosting a family potluck this coming weekend for my family where we all make some kind of Ukrainian dish in honor of my late mother, who was an American Ukrainian born to immigrant parents. She had a few recipes from the "Old Country", like stuffed cabbage rolls (called Holopschi), that she liked to recreate for our family. So my brother is making the holopschi, my sister is making borscht, and I am going to make a few side salads and appetizers from my cookbook. SLO Veg really came through this week for my salads with some cauliflower, tomatoes, radishes, carrots and green onion. I have two salad recipes that will utilized all of those vegetables (more on that later). One is a carrot salad with apples, and the other is a cauliflower salad with apples, tomatoes and cucumbers. Both call for a sour cream, vinegar and sugar dressing something like one would use on coleslaw. (There are no radishes in this photo...I need to fix that before I blog about the salads). But back to the fish balls.

I deviated from the recipe a bit. I soaked some wheat bread in milk (I don't
usually have any white bread around here, unless its sourdough), chopped up
Pureed fish and soaked bread
Cheddar Jack cheese gets mixed in with the fish
the fish in the food processor, then proceeded to chop just half an onion to go it it. The recipe called for soaking one-half pound of bread in water (I used 3 slices), and I had to look at the bread wrapper to see how much a whole loaf weighs:  1.2 lbs. It also called for farmer's cheese. I am not sure what kind of cheese that is. I had thought it was more like cottage or ricotta cheese, but the recipe said to grate it, so I used my cheddar-jack cheese blend. The only seasoning called for in the recipe was salt, but I added dried dill weed, salt and pepper, some lemon juice and some granulated garlic. Then I scooped out the mixture with my ball scoop and rolled them in a blend of flour and cornmeal, because I didn't want to just use flour.
I am a rebel.

Fish Balls

1 lb. cod filets
1/2 yellow onion
3 slices bread, soaked in 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 cup shredded cheddar-jack cheese
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal

Puree the fish in a food processor and put into a mixing bowl. Chop one-half a yellow onion in the food processor and mix in with the fish. Season the fish with salt, pepper, dill and lemon juice. Put the bread slices in a shallow dish and pour the milk over it, then break up the bread into small pieces. Stir into the fish mixture. Add the shredded cheese and mix well.

Scoop the fish into balls and roll in a mixture of flour and cornmeal. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve with cocktail sauce.

Cod fish balls baking in the oven. These are pretty big. I think I will try my smaller ball-maker next time I make these, which will be the next time we get cod in our tote.

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