Habanero Cajeta–Glazed Black Cod with Macadamia Nuts, Tomatoes, and Greens
Capella Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Savory and spicy cajeta gives this black cod dish a unique, Latin American twist. The cajeta can be made a couple of days in advance.
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 small pinch salt
- 1 habanero chile
- 16 cherry tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 bunch thyme, chopped
- 1/4 bunch rosemary, chopped
- Olive oil as needed
- Salt, black pepper, and sugar as needed
- Four 6-ounce portions black cod
- Salt as needed
- 4 tablespoons habanero cajeta
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 3 cups purslane, spinach, or baby mustard greens
- Olive oil as needed
- 2 tablespoons toasted and chopped macadamia nuts
- Grated piloncillo or brown sugar as needed
To make the cajeta, combine all of the ingredients in a deep sauce pot over medium-low heat. Let the mixture slowly reduce, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to prevent the milk from simmering so that it doesn’t start to curdle. Continue reducing until the mixture is thick but still syrupy and light caramel in color, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. You should have about 1/3 cup when you’re done. As the mixture reduces, carefully taste a spoonful of it every 30 minutes or so to test the heat from the chile. Once you’re satisfied with the amount of heat, discard the chile and continue reducing. When the cajeta is done, remove it from the heat, let cool, and refrigerate until needed. (Can be made a day or two in advance.)
To make the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, herbs, and fairly generous amounts of salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook in the oven until the tomatoes begin to wilt and caramelize, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
To make the black cod, preheat the broiler. Season the cod fillets with salt, then brush each fillet with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cajeta. Transfer the fillets to a sheet pan and cook under the broiler for 5 minutes. Remove from the broiler and brush each fillet with another 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cajeta. Return the fish to the broiler for another 5 minutes, until the fish has cooked through and the cajeta has started to turn golden brown. Remove from the broiler and keep warm until needed.
Heat some olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and sauté until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Quickly add the greens and sauté until they turn bright green and begin to wilt, about one minute. Quickly transfer the shallots and greens to a bowl and set aside.
To serve, divide the black cod fillets among 4 serving plates, then place some sautéed greens and tomatoes next to each piece of fish. Sprinkle each fillet with some toasted macadamia nuts and some grated piloncillo or brown sugar.