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Eric Akis: Fish, cheese sauce and broccoli make a tasty combination

B.C. lingcod is served with a tangy dill-flecked cheese sauce and bright green broccoli florets.
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Lingcod with Broccoli and Dill Cheddar Sauce BC lingcod, baked, plated and served with a tangy dill cheddar sauce and broccoli. ERIC AKIS

Broccoli with cheese sauce is a classic combination. Fish topped with cheese sauce, as you would for cod au gratin, is also appealing. So, for today’s recipe, I decided to serve all three together in a fine tasting winter dish.

For the recipe, I used B.C. lingcod fillets. Lingcod has a mild, but pleasing taste that was nicely enhanced by the tangy cheese sauce I served with it. Lingcod is sold fresh and/or frozen at local seafood stores and at some supermarkets. If you can’t find it, other types of white fish fillets, such as other types of cod, and also halibut, will work in the recipe.

To cook the lingcod, I set in on a baking sheet, brushed it with olive oil and seasoned it.

I then surround the fish with blanched, cooled, broccoli florets. The fish was then baked and by the time it was cooked through, the bright green broccoli florets beside it were piping hot again.

To finish the dish, that serves two, I plated the lingcod and broccoli and generously topped the fish with my cheese sauce. I made the cheese sauce as one normally would, by adding, melting and combining grated aged cheddar cheese into a white (béchamel) sauce. For added flavour, I spiced up that sauce by mixing in some paprika and a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, and gave it an herbaceous taste by mixing in chopped dill.

There’s a fairly generous amount of sauce; a good thing as you’ll being enjoying it with the lingcod, broccoli and the side dish you serve with them. With regard to the latter, as you’ll see in today’s recipe photo, I choose boiled miniature potatoes, which worked nicely with the fish, broccoli and tangy sauce.

Lingcod with Broccoli and Dill Cheddar Sauce

B.C. lingcod is served with a tangy dill-flecked cheese sauce and bright green broccoli florets.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 18 to 20 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp warm milk (divided; see Note 1)

1/2 cup grated aged white cheddar cheese

• pinch paprika

• splashes Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce

• salt and white pepper, to taste

1 tsp chopped fresh dill, or pinch or 2 dried dill

2 (about 5 to 6 ounce/140 to 170 gram) lingcod fillets (see Eric’s options)

2 tsp olive oil (divided)

12 small broccoli florets, blanched (see Note 2)

• small dill sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. While oven warms, put butter in a small pot set over medium heat. When butter is melted, mix in flour until well combined, and then cook and stir one minute. Whisk and dribble in 1/4 cup of the milk. Cook until mixture is very thick, and then slowly whisk in remaining milk. Bring this white sauce to a simmer, stirring frequently, and cook one minute. Remove sauce from the heat, cover and set aside until needed.

When oven is preheated, line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Set the lingcod fillets in the baking pan and brush the top of each one with 1 tsp olive oil. Set the blanched broccoli florets around the fish. Season the fish and broccoli with salt and pepper. Bake the lingcod 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked, and the broccoli is piping hot.

When lingcod is five minutes from being cooked, uncover the sauce and set over medium heat to make warm again. When sauce is warm, mix in the grated cheese, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. When cheese has melted, season the sauce with salt and pepper and mix in the dill.

When cooked, set a piece of lingcod on each of two dinner plates. Generously spoon some of the cheese sauce on each piece of lingcod. Set some broccoli florets on and around the fish on each plate. Garnish with dill sprigs, if using, and then serve.

Note 1: You can warm the milk to just below a simmer in a glass-measuring cup in the microwave, or in a small pot on the stovetop set over medium-low heat.

Note 2: To blanch the broccoli florets, plunge them into a pot of boiling water two minutes. Drain well, cool in ice-cold water, drain well again and they are ready to use.

Eric’s options: If you can’t find lingcod fillets, other type of cod fillets will also work in this recipe. So will other types of white fish fillets, such as halibut.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.