I’m going to be upfront. Today’s Chili Confit Black Cod is not for the faint of heart. It packs a punch in terms of heat, so if you’re heat averse you may want to look away. If, on the other hand, your hot sauce collection can only be described as “sprawling”, stayed tuned, this fish is for you. But even if heat isn’t your thing, there is still plenty here for you. The toasted gnocchi with burst cherry tomatoes, for instance, won’t inspire perspiration or tears. I also have a few ideas on how you can reduce the spice level to something more manageable. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s tackle the recipe.
The recipe starts with a simple confit featuring 21 Thai red chilis. Before you freak out, let me assure you that you won’t be consuming all 21 of the chilis. These chilis will be gracing the marinade for the black cod. There will be honey added to cut the heat, and a few garlic cloves to add depth. Also, the only chili you will actually be consuming will be the bits that cling to the fish. So, in reality, you’re probably only eating 2 or 3, which could very well be too much for you. As I always say, when it comes to heat – know your limit and play within it.
Anyway, back to the confit. We’re going to place the chilis in a skillet add a few whole cloves of garlic and completely cover them in olive oil. Yes, you’re going to use quite a bit of oil here, but don’t fret about wastefulness. You can use this oil in future cooking endeavors as you would any olive oil. But this oil will take on the flavor of the garlic and chilis, so it has a little extra oomph. In fact, we’re going to make use of some of this oil a little later on in this recipe. So basically, as long as you continue to cook with oil, your confit oil will not go to waste.
Okay, so you’ve made your peace with the amount of oil you had to add, what now? Well, you’re going to turn the heat to low and let the oil come to the barest simmer. And this is where we want it to stay. Don’t let the oil break out into a full-on boil, or you’ll fry the chilis. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what we’re looking for in this particular instance. Cook the chilis and garlic for 15-20 minutes or until the garlic cloves can be easily pierced with a knife. From here, transfer the confit to a heat-proof jar and set it aside to cool completely.
Once the confit is cool, you’re good to make your marinade. Extract the chilis and garlic from the oil and puree them in a food processor. Add some honey and a bit of salt, and that’s it. That’s your marinade. Simply pour it over 2-4 black cod fillets and toss them to coat. You don’t have to leave the fish in the marinade for all that long. An hour or two will do. Fish is a delicate meat so it doesn’t take long for it to pick up flavor.
While the fish is getting acquainted with the chili confit, preheat the oven for the toasted gnocchi. I love toasted gnocchi. I could eat it like popcorn and it’s so simple to make. And I’m using the storebought stuff, so there’s no excuse not to make it. Basically, you pop the gnocchi into a large bowl, add some corn, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas, and toss the lot in a few tablespoons of the chili oil from the confit. From there, simply pour it onto a baking sheet and pop it in the oven.
Now, the fish. The fish is dead simple to cook. Add a little oil to an oven-safe skillet and sear the fish on both sides before pushing it into the oven alongside the gnocchi. A quick five-minute roast will result in flaky moist fish every time. And by then, your gnocchi should be golden and ready to eat. This meal could not be simpler or frankly, spicier. But if you’re looking to knock back the heat, reduce the chilis in the confit to 4 or 5 and add 6 cloves of garlic instead of 2. Sure, this will make it more Garlic Confit Black Cod but who would complain about something like that?
So that’s everything you need to know about this Chili Confit Black Cod with Toasted Gnocchi and Burst Cherry Tomatoes. A simple, spicy, and satisfying late summer dish if there ever was one.
Chili Confit Black Cod with Toasted Gnocchi and Burst Cherry Tomatoes
- Oven-safe skillet
- Large baking sheet
- 21 red Thai chilis **
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 black cod fillets
- 350g (12oz) gnocchi
- 250g (9oz) cherry tomatoes
- 1 ear corn kernels cut from the cob
- 1 cup sugar snap peas
- Place the garlic and chilis in a large skillet and cover with the olive oil. Place the skillet over medium heat. Heat until small bubbles break the surface of the oil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, making sure the oil never comes to a rapid simmer.
- Once the garlic can be easily pierced with a knife, pour the contents of the skillet into a heat proof jar and set it aside to cool completely.
- Once the confit has cooled, extract the chilis and garlic from the oil and place them in a large food processor. Blitz until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl and add the honey and the salt, whisk to combine.
- Place the cod fillets in a resealable container and pour the marinade over top. Toss the fish in the marinade to ensure it is evenly coated. Seal the container and transfer it to the fridge. Leave the fish to marinate for 1-2 hours.
- When the fish is in the last half an hour of its marinating time, preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour the gnocchi into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, corn, and sugar snap peas. Pour 2 tablespoons of the confit oil over top and toss to coat.
- Pour the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle generously with salt and place it in the oven. Roast the gnocchi for 15 minutes, tossing it with a spatula once halfway through.
- Pour a tablespoon of the confit oil in an oven-safe skillet and place over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the cod to the skillet skin-side-down. Sear until the skin is crisp, about 2 minutes. Flip the fish and sear until golden, about 2 minutes more. Flip the fish once more before transferring the skillet to the oven. Roast the fish for 5 minutes or until flaky.
- Take the gnocchi out of the oven and divide it amongst four plates. Place a cod fillet on top of each serving and serve immediately.