Millet-Crusted Pan-Fried Black Cod

Pan-fried black cod, with zucchini, broccoli rabe and chived yukon gold potatoes

Pan-fried black cod, with zucchini, broccoli rabe and chived yukon gold potatoes


I am not a vegetarian by any means, but I try to confine my meat-eating to fish and poultry (and once in awhile pork), and usually only 2 or 3 times a week.  Fish is my favorite, and one of the healthiest meats you can eat, because of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are necessary for healthy brain functioning but cannot be easily synthesized in the body.  Many people are freaked out about the amount of mercury in fish these days – which they should be – and avoid eating fish altogether.  That is a mistake, since the health benefits of consuming DHA/EPA far outweigh the risks of mercury poisoning.¹  This is even true for pregnant women – DHA/EPA are essential for healthy brain development in the fetus.  There are certain fish that are more prone to mercury contamination than others, so you want to avoid those of course (see below).  But for the most part, you are better off including fish in your diet once or twice a week.


I am lucky that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and can buy local, wild, fresh fish at the farmers’ market.  If you don’t live near the sea, however, here are some things to take into consideration.


Always buy wild-caught, never farmed, fish. 


Why?  Farmed fish are fed an unnatural diet of grain, which makes them less healthy and produce less DHA/EPA.  They are also pumped with antibiotics and food additives, which often function to give them a healthier-looking color (as in the case of salmon). 


Eat low on the food chain. 


Fish retain traces of methylmercury and PCB’s, and as they are eaten by larger fish, those toxins remain in the big fish as well until an even bigger one comes along.  So logic dictates that the smaller the fish, the less fish it has consumed, and therefore the fewer toxins present.  Avoid large fish like shark, swordfish, and albacore tuna (not just for health reasons either – albacore tuna is one of the most over-fished populations in our seas and the process of hunting them puts dolphins at risk as well).  Go for the smaller fish and shellfish.


Try not to buy fish that comes from halfway around the world.


Even if it is wild-caught, the process of shipping fish around the world just adds to the contamination of our seas.  This is just another way to interpret that the shorter the food chain, the better.  At least try to get your wild fish from North America.


Millet-Crusted Pan-Fried Black Cod


One of my favorite types of fish is black cod, also called sable fish or butter cod, because of its buttery flavor.  It is perfect for pan-frying because of its firm, yet flaky texture.  I coat it with some ground millet or millet flour (you can buy it or grind your own in a coffee grinder) mixed with a dash of paprika and sea salt.  Millet, a nutritious gluten-free grain, has a mild, buttery taste that adds to the flavor of the fish.


2 4-oz. fillets black cod

1/4 cup ground millet flour

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp sea salt

2-3 T olive oil

squeeze of lemon


Mix the millet flour, paprika, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Rinse the fillets, pat dry, then coat in the millet mixture.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until shimmery hot but not smoking.  Add the fillets and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.  The fish is done when it flakes easily.  Remove from pan and drizzle with fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

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