Murray cod with peperonata and wilted spinach

While Murray cod is indigenous to Australia, our great Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme was built by migrants, whose participation and cultures have made this country so rich. The peperonata salad is a nod to the Italian heritage that has contributed so much to our culture and food. 

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 175g Murray cod fillets, skin on
200g baby English spinach leaves
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Peperonata-style salad
1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
1 yellow capsicum (bell pepper)
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon baby capers, rinsed and drained
50g (1/3 cup) black olives, pitted and finely chopped
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bunch basil, cut into very fine shreds

Directions:

  1. For the peperonata-style salad, chargrill the capsicums over a gas flame, under a grill or in the oven until the skins blister and blacken. Place in a plastic bag, seal and set aside to allow the capsicums to steam for 10 minutes. (This makes peeling them much easier.)
  2. Meanwhile, combine the red onion and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Carefully remove the skin and seeds from the capsicum and slice into 5mm strips. Combine the capsicum strips, baby capers, black olives, oil and the red onion and red wine vinegar mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lastly top with the basil.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Pinbone the Murray cod to remove any stray bones. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on the skin side and place, skin side down, in the pan. After a couple of minutes cover the pan and cook until the skin is crisp and the fish is almost cooked through. Remove from the pan and allow to rest to finish off the cooking process. Add the spinach and garlic to the pan used to cook the fish, season with salt and pepper, toss to coat in the oil and wilt.
  4. Place a bed of wilted spinach on each plate, place the fish, skin side up, on top and spoon some peperonata-style salad on top. Serve the remaining salad in a bowl.

Tips:

Peperonata is a rustic Italian dish with various regional variations. Traditionally, all the ingredients are gently stewed together and it can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. This version is more like a salad. Grape, cherry or baby roma (plum) tomatoes also make a great addition to the peperonata.

As this is quite a robust dish, go for an Italian varietal wine like sangiovese. Given these flavours are popular in Spain too, a tempranillo could also work well.