Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium  is back! I have been involved with this event since it 


began, and I’m passionate about its mission: to help consumers, chefs and businesses choose seafood that is caught or farmed in ways that contribute to healthy oceans.

Cooking for Solutions takes place this year May 17-19, and there are still tickets available for several events. Cooking for Solutions supports the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s respected Seafood Watch program, recognized as the leader in creating science-based recommendations for choosing sustainable seafood. The event includes three days of tastings with celebrity chefs, including Carla Hall  from The Chew . You’ll find food from more than 80 restaurants, and nearly 60 wineries will pour their latest selections. I am part of a Food & Wine Adventure on Saturday, May 18, in the Carmel Highlands, and look forward to these intimate classes each year.

One of my favorite sustainable seafood choices is Black Cod, also known as Sablefish or Butterfish. It has a delicious flavor and one of its best attributes is that even if you overcook it a bit, the fish is still moist and firm.

Sablefish, courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sablefish, courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

This recipe for Black Cod in a Spicy Coconut Broth uses a curry mixture called laksa   . It has its roots in Malaysia. And if you want to replace the spinach, you could use other Asian greens like steamed baby bok choy. I hope you enjoy the recipe- and let me know what you think of Black Cod!



Serves 4

4 fillets of fresh black cod cut at least 3/4 inch thick (approximately 1-1/2 pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups lightly packed young spinach
1 cup chicken stock
1-1/2 cups coconut milk, well stirred
3/4 cup laksa paste or to taste (recipe follows)

Garnish: Daikon or other savory sprouts such as sunflower

Pat the cod dry, season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof sauté pan (preferably non-stick) over moderately high heat and quickly sauté fish on one side until nicely browned. Turn fish over and place pan in a preheated 450-degree oven for 4 – 5 minutes or until just cooked through.

While fish is cooking heat the stock and coconut milk in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in laksa paste and keep warm.

To serve add remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over moderately high heat. Add spinach stir-fry until just beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Place spinach in the center of shallow warm bowls and top with cod. Ladle broth around, top with sprouts and serve immediately.

Laksa Paste
Makes a little more than a cup

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (or to taste)*
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/3 cup chopped and toasted macadamia nuts or blanched almonds
1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)
Juice and zest from 2 large limes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup or so coconut milk

Add all ingredients except coconut milk to a blender and process for a minute or two or until very smooth. Add mixture to a small saucepan and cook over moderate heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Should be very fragrant. Stir in coconut milk and cook for 2 – 3 minutes more. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

*Chili garlic sauce is available in the Asian markets and the Asian section of some supermarkets. Lee Kum Kee from Hong Kong is a widely distributed brand.