Friday, May 15, 2009

Cod with Lemon-Caper Sauce

I have a perfect "dinner for 1" for you. While just as excellent for 2, this is one of those recipes that requires some bona fide "cooking" action, yet is so effortless that preparing it for your solitary self doesn't feel taxing.

I'll admit that sometimes when I'm alone I just cannot be asked to do real cooking. Leftovers are a godsend, assembling a meal is fine (think soft tacos with leftover chicken), but the prospect of cooking a new dish from scratch can feel vaguely depressing. It's just like, if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If I plan, shop and cook something wonderful, but I'm the only there to taste it, is it worth the bother? Is it rewarding? Is it pleasurable? You're probably thinking that this is all a rhetorical exercise, and I'm about to tell you, of course it's worth it. Of course it's meaningful to nourish oneself. More meaningful than nourishing others even.

But I don't know. Don't get me wrong. You do deserve a nice dinner. A meal for one can be utterly enjoyable, both at home or in a restaurant. Cooking is fun, whether it's just for you or a hoard of guests. Still. Still, there's something that's so much better about setting a plate in front of someone, seeing their enjoyment and feeling your own at the same time. When there's a great experience to be had or a great meal to be eaten, you want to talk about it, share it.

Sometimes I need to force myself to really cook when I'm alone, but I do it, and I'm never sorry. It's nice to have a few recipes in your back pocket that make it easier to get yourself going. This is definitely one of mine.

Cod with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Serves 1 (double for 2)

1 tsp olive oil
1 to 2 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 pound cod, sole or flounder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp capers, rinsed
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet on medium-low to medium heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned on both sides and opaque throughout, turning once. Remove fish from skillet and reduce heat to low. Add the lemon juice, capers and half the parsley. Simmer 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Pour over the fish, sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve with steamed vegetables and bread or grains.


Sarah Lenz said...

I understand how there is that element of other people's pleasure missing when dining alone.

But last year, when I found myself alone while my husband was off on business trips, I found that I cooked MORE for myself because I could cook all the things that he didn't like/ was allergic to/ or just thought were strange. My cats and I enjoyed many a liver pate while my husband was away.

So perhaps this is the most liberating thing about cooking for 1, you can eat whatever you please and no one will judge you for it!

Joan Nova said...

Interesting commentary, especially the metaphor of a tree falling in the forest. And, smart retort from Sarah. It's nice to get the applause for a job well done, but the real satisfaction is in "a job well done". The lemon-caper sauce is a good thing for your back pocket since it can be applied to fish, chicken, pork...whatever. It makes everything taste better.

Julie said...

Sarah: You make a really good point! Funny thing is that my husband will try anything and honestly likes everything I make (what's wrong with him?!). But you're right of course--having no one to please but yourself is such a relief sometimes.
Joan: Thanks for chiming in. It's true, I like the accolades. It's mostly about wanting to share the good stuff with someone telling your friends they have to go try a great new restaurant. And yes, you could absolutely do this preparation with just about anything. The flavor is amazing for just a few simple ingredients.

Pille said...

Easy and tasty. I'm not cooking for just one person often these days, but this is perfect for those occasions when they occur.

BubbaJ said...

This is a way cool and simple recipe. I love Mediterranean cooking. It could work with most any white fish (I used red snapper.) I added a cut up black olive and some roasted red pepper more for presentation than taste.

Julie said...

BubbaJ: presentation is totally important! Black olives would be delish here.

Join the Gossip said...

Thanks so the recipe! I googled and you came up, thank goodness. Going to make this now =)

Mary said...

Great recipe! So simple yet so delicious!