Baked Cod

Monday, 16 May 2011

In 1950, New York Times science editor Waldemar Kaempffert wrote an article about what miracles the world might see in 2000. At a time when modems hadn't been invented yet, he predicted that access to The New York Times would be possible 'in your home, in the streets, in the trains and cars that carry you to your work, in the bargain basement of every department store'. Video phone calls, TV via phone lines, and faxes that cost next to nothing were also predicted. As was hair removal cream, though it wasn't foreseen that said cream would become a taboo for men: they'd rather die before they let anyone know they use it!

Some of Waldemar Kaempffert's predictions were spot on but there were others which were way off, like what he said about food and cooking:
'Cooking as an art is only a memory in the minds of old people. A few die-hards still broil a chicken or roast a leg of lamb, but the experts have developed ways of deep-freezing partially baked cuts of meat. Even soup and milk are delivered in the form of frozen bricks.

'In eight seconds a half-grilled frozen steak is thawed; in two minutes more it is ready to serve. It never takes . . . more than half an hour to prepare . . . an elaborate meal of several courses.

'Sawdust and wood pulp are converted into sugary foods. Discarded paper table [paper] “linen” and rayon underwear are bought by chemical factories to be converted into candy.'
Eww, candy made with discarded underwear? I'm sure someone somewhere in China must be doing it!

Not only has cooking not become 'a distant memory', it's celebrated by zillions of websites, food blogs and online forums. Cyberspace is overflowing with recipes, many with step-by-step photos or even videos, and online advice if you have any questions – all for free.

You definitely don't have to be a die-hard to try Sam Leong's 'Baked Cod with Marinated Superior Light Soya Sauce and Honey'. (What a mouthful!) In fact, by the time you say 'Baked Cod blah blah blah', the marinade's done. The fish then sits in the marinade for 15 minutes, and then it sits in the oven for 15 minutes. Cooking from scratch doesn't get easier than this, or better.

Whilst the fish is sitting here and there, you should sit too and enjoy a cold drink. And maybe contemplate what the world might be like 50 years from now? I'm guessing a frozen pre-cooked steak will still taste horrible in 2061.

Source: Adapted from Sam Leong's A Wok Through Time and the video below
(Recipe for 4 persons)

4 tbsp light soya sauce
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Maggi seasoning

400 g black cod, cut into 4 pieces, each 2½-cm (1-inch) thick, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp honey
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
dash of ground white pepper
2 tbsp milk

I opted out of the egg white garnish but you go right ahead with the whole nine yards, please. Here's the man himself to show you how easy it is:

To make marinade, stir ingredients till sugar is dissolved. Add cod and turn to coat evenly. Marinate for 15 minutes, turning over mid-way.

To make garnish, beat egg whites with salt, pepper and milk. Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Turn off heat. Add egg whites and stir very gently to form large wisps. Steep till just cooked, 15 seconds or so. Drain and place on a serving plate.

To cook fish, bake at 150°C (300°F) for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 100°C (210°F). Continue baking till centre of fish feels firm when pressed, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with honey.

To plate, place fish on egg whites. If you like, top with a sprig or two of coriander and sprinkle plate with some powdered seaweed as in the video. Serve immediately.

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