Raïto is a Provençal red wine sauce with tomatoes, capers and olives. Although traditionally served with cod, it’s a tasty accompaniment to any fish that is not too delicate in flavor – halibut, tuna and skate, to name a few. Here the fresh cod is salted for a couple of hours which firms the flesh. The resulting slightly salty flavor, reminiscent of salt cod, marries beautifully with the rich and briny flavors of the red wine sauce. Great with boiled potatoes or pasta.
Based on the recipe Fresh cod with raïto sauce in The Provençal Cookbook by Gui Gedda and Marie-Pierre Moine
2 lb, thick piece of cod, skinned and cut into 4 filets
2 T coarse sea salt
2 T sugar
Flour for dusting fish
Oil for pan frying
Oil for sautéing vegetables
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 bay leaves
1 T fennel seed, tied in cheese cloth
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1-15oz can diced tomato, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ t minced parsley
2/3 cup fruity, full bodied red wine
1 cup water
2 t capers, drained and minced
2 small tart gherkins (cornichons), minced
Pitted black olives for garnish
Dry the cod filets with a paper towel and rub with a mixture of salt and sugar. Place in a covered container or plastic bag and refrigerate for 3 hours. You can leave the filets a couple of hours longer if need be.
Before cooking the fish prepare the Raïto sauce (see below).
Rinse the filets well in cold water and place in a sauce pan. Fill the pan with cold water, about 2-3 inches above fish. Heat over a low flame until bubbles just start to appear at the edge of the pan and the fish is not quite cooked through, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the fish as it will fall apart when you pan fry it.
Drain and pat the fish dry with a paper towel and dust with flour. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat and lightly brown the filets on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, reduce heat to medium and sauté until they begin to soften and color, about 12-15 minutes. Add the bay leaf, fennel seed, garlic and parsley. Sauté for 1 minute before stirring in the tomatoes. Add the red wine, turn up the heat and stir, letting the alcohol burn off a little, about 3 minutes. Pour in the water and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the sugar and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the capers and gherkins and continue to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, adding water if the sauce becomes too thick. Set aside while you cook the fish.
Reheat the sauce and remove the bay leaves and fennel. Place the fish on plates with a generous spoonful of sauce and garnish with the olives. Pour the excess sauce in a small serving bowl for those wanting additional sauce at the table.