Friday, April 1, 2016

Foodie Reads 2016: Polenta-Crusted Cod with Mango Salsa

Spring break has been fantastic for my Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge, I've been able to cross half a dozen books off my to-read list. While the boys worked on their movie, over the past few days, I packed a book and read in between takes and sledding with D.

On the Page...
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg* was my book of choice when we went to Desolation Wilderness and when we were at the summit of Mt. Rose. 

Paul Greenberg is a lifelong fisherman and talented writer. And in Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food he provides the reader an entertaining and informative natural history and social commentary on the state of commercial fishing, aquaculture, and fisheries management around the world. 

His book focuses on four fish: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. He uses those species as jumping off points for further exploration.

In the section on salmon, Greenberg visits the Yupiks on the Yukon River, details the genesis of Norwegian aquaculture, and explores salmon genetics. In "Sea Bass: The Holiday Fish Goes to Work", Greenberg shares Franics Galton's criteria regarding animal selection for domestication and delves into fishing restrictions. He introduces readers to the Sustainable Fisheries Act, invites Mark Kurlansky over for a cod taste test (in search of that perfect flake), and heads to Vietnam to look at a whitefish alternative, tra. And in "Tuna: One Last Bite" he shares a candid story that made me love him all the more.

Greenberg has just published an article with the proclamation that we shouldn't eat big fish; he equates eating bluefin tuna to driving a Hummer. Yes, that's bad, too. 

But two weeks after making my high-minded pronouncements, I found myself at a family dinner party at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. The appetizer choice on the prix fixe menu was either a mini-sirloin steak or bluefind tuna carpaccio. ...I chose the bluefin. I quickly scarfed it down and nearly forgot about the delicous paper-thin slices after they had been washed down with a glass of pinot grigio. I turned to my twelve-year-old daughter, who had ordered the sirloin...and had just read my New York Times op in in draft form. "Hypocrite," she said coolly. (pp 215-216)

I think what appealed to me about that entire exchange: he's clearly human. It's easy to stand on a culinary soapbox and tell people what to eat and what not to eat. But to engage and inform and, then, to put the onus back on the reader is a much more effective strategy. Besides, if I learned nothing else from this, I learned that the ocean and the food supply there is constantly in flux. We, as conscientious eaters, need to make adjustments based on a number of variables. There is no single choice that is going to be the correct choice permanently.

If you eat fish, you really should read this book. While I felt that I was making good choices in my seafood purchases before, I feel much better equipped after reading Greenberg's book.

On the Plate...
I thought about making something with salmon. There's not much better than salmon caught by your Love right in your own bay. And, salmon season opens this weekend, I think!

photo by Captain Dan Wood, April 2012

I considered sharing a recipe for seared tuna. I really do love that crisp sear against super fresh, raw tuna.

But, in the end, I decided to see if I could achieve that "perfect flake" on some pan-fried cod.

Ingredients serves 4


  • 4 cod filets
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 C polenta
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T coconut oil

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 C diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C diced avocado
  • 1 T fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mango Salsa
Combine all ingredients in bowl. Stir until well-combined. Set aside.

Pat each filet dry and generously season with salt and pepper. Place flour and polenta onto separate shallow plates or bowls. Working one piece of a time, coat each piece with flour. Melt butter and coconut oil in a large, flat-bottom skillet.

Press the filets firmly into the polenta until a thick layer forms. Place fish polenta-side down in the melted butter and coconut oil.

Cook until the polenta is deep golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Carefully flip fish and cook for another 5 minutes until the fish is opaque and firm. When done top with mango salsa.

I served this on top of a lentil-sorghum salad with roasted kabocha squash and carrots on the side.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in April 2016: here.


  1. I love mango salsa but never take the time to cut up mangos for myself at home.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Heather. Yes, cutting mangos can be a messy project. But this salsa is so, so tasty. It's definitely worth it!

  2. Great post Cam. Sharing at Fish Friday Foodies and posting to our board. Thanks