Butter-Basted Spiced Cod with Polenta

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Baking cod in melted butter adds a richness to the fish that nicely balances the heat from the harissa, a North African paste made of ground dried chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 tsp. crushed whole coriander seeds or ground coriander
  • 2 medium lemons, 1 finely grated to yield 1/2 tsp. zest and squeezed for 2 Tbs. juice, the other cut into wedges
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 4 6-oz. pieces cod loin
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. harissa paste
  • 2 tsp. coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

Heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 3 cups of water, the lemon zest, and 1 tsp. salt; turn the heat up to medium high. Whisk in the cornmeal and cook, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. (If the polenta gets too thick, loosen with a little hot water.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and arrange in a 9x13 baking dish with space between each piece. Remove the butter from the heat, stir in the harissa and lemon juice, and pour it over the fish. Bake, basting every 5 minutes or so, until cooked through (the fish will flake easily), about 15 minutes. If necessary, cover with foil to keep warm.

Divide the polenta among 4 shallow bowls or plates. Top with the fish and spoon the butter over the fish. Top with the cilantro or parsley and serve with the lemon wedges.