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Ten Minute Salt Cod with Corn and Littleneck Clams. Photo © Anna Williams
© Anna Williams

Ten-Minute Salt Cod with Corn and Littleneck Clams

  • TOTAL TIME: 40 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 4
  • FAST
  • HEALTHY

Instead of using salt cod, a classic Portuguese ingredient that takes days to soak, New York City chef George Mendes of Aldea quick-cures fresh cod by standing it in kosher salt for only 10 minutes. He says cod is naturally soft and flaky ("as well as bland," he adds), so salting gives it a firmer texture and a more pronounced flavor.

video Best New Chef 2011: George Mendes

  1. 4 skinless center-cut cod fillets (about 5 ounces each)
  2. 1/2 cup kosher salt
  3. 2 ears of corn, shucked
  4. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  5. 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  6. Freshly ground white pepper
  7. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  8. Wondra flour, for dusting
  9. 20 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  10. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  11. 2 cilantro sprigs
  12. 1 thyme sprig
  13. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  14. 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  15. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  16. Crusty bread, for serving
  1. Set the cod on a plate and cover all over with the salt. Let stand for exactly 10 minutes. Rinse off the salt and pat the cod dry.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 2 minutes; drain and pat dry. Cut the kernels off the cobs. In a small skillet, toss the corn with the butter and lemon juice and season with white pepper. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  3. In a large, deep nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Dust the cod with Wondra flour and season with white pepper. Add the fish to the pan, skinned side down and cook over high heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Flip the cod and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the clams, garlic, cilantro and thyme and season with pepper. Add the wine, cover and cook over moderate heat until the clams open and the fish is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and any clams that do not open.
  4. Rewarm the corn and spoon it into 4 shallow bowls. Top with the cod and sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Spoon the clams and broth all around and garnish with the parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Suggested Pairing

Luis Pato, who works in Portugal's Bairrada region, is slightly controversial because of his modern techniques, but his white wines are unquestionably fantastic with seafood. Look for his juicy Maria Gomes (named for the Maria Gomes grape) or the minerally Vinhas Velhas, a white blend.

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