Swedish dishes often mix flavours and textures that quite simply translate into the ultimate plate of comfort food, and this creamy egg sauce with a perfectly cooked piece of cod happens to be one of them. The sauce is reminiscent of something you might have on a cold day, but combine it with white asparagus (which is one of the vegetables that crop up towards the end of spring) and it signals the promise of warmer weather. I like adding a touch of horseradish for some heat, but feel free to leave it out if you prefer.
Cod with Asparagus and Smashed Egg / Torsk Med Äggsås, Sparris Och Persilja
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
25g sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
600g skinless cod fillet, cut into 4 pieces
2 heaped tbsp butter, plus extra for the vegetables
8 white asparagus
8 bulbous spring onions
zest and juice of ½ a lemon
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
375ml whole milk
125ml single cream
a handful of curly parsley leaves
2 tbsp finely grated fresh horseradish, plus a little extra to garnish
4 medium hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly mashed with a fork
Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.
In a large glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the 25g of salt and the water until the salt has dissolved. Place the cod in the bowl, making sure it’s submerged, and leave for 10 minutes. Remove the cod from the water and dab off any excess moisture with a clean tea towel. Put the cod into a baking dish and dot with half the butter. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until the cod is cooked through and flakes slightly.
While the cod is cooking, trim and peel the asparagus. Trim the spring onions, and discard the green tops. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and add the asparagus and spring onions. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is al dente (insert a sharp knife into the base of the asparagus; if it slides through with little resistance, it’s ready). Remove with a slotted spoon and toss in a bowl with a knob of butter, a pinch of pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice while still warm.
Melt the rest of the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the flour until it forms a lump and beat hard. Gradually whisk in the milk, cream and lemon zest. Bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute before taking off the heat and stirring in a generous amount of salt and white pepper. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. Chop the parsley leaves and stir most of them in, then add the 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish and the mashed eggs.
Divide the asparagus and spring onions between four plates, place a piece of cod on top and pour over a generous ladle or two of the smashed egg sauce. Sprinkle over some freshly grated horseradish and the rest of the parsley, and serve with some new potatoes, if you like.
Top tip / Trim about 2cm from the woody end of the asparagus, then lay the spears flat on a board and peel the stems with a vegetable peeler.
Recipe from my latest cookbook, The Little Swedish Kitchen. Order it on amazon now!