The KISS Principle – Cod with Parsley Sauce

IMG_0165Reading around the internet about cooking reveals some interesting stuff. My latest bugbear is over-complication. I see some ‘brand name’ chefs obfuscating processes needlessly. I wonder why? Perhaps it’s to preserve some mystique around their ‘art’. Perhaps it’s that they just don’t know any better. Or, perhaps it’s for more commercial reasons?

I don’t see any benefit in complicating this simple classic of Cod with Parsley Sauce. It’s just too good done my way, so KISS Keep it Simple S****d. However, if you want to see Marco Pierre White selling his soul and making things a bit more difficult than they need to be while waving a big knife around, play this video.

My list of ingredients is pretty simple.

Baked Cod and Parsley Sauce

A simple list of ingredients. Actually, a list of simple ingredients.

You will need:

  • Cod (180 to 200 grammes per person)
  • White wine
  • Samphire (or lemon slices)
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper
  • kitchen foil or parchment for parcels
  • 50 grammes of butter
  • 50 grammes of white flour
  • 1 pint of milk
  • Plenty of curly parsley
  • Nice potatoes to accompany

The instructions are also very simple. Take out a kitchen knife and cut your cod into portion sizes. Put the knife away and make some generous sized parcels out of kitchen foil. Don’t do a Marco, you might cut something. Rub them with olive oil. Add the fish. Season it. Place the samphire on top and make up the parcel leaving a hole into which you pour a little white wine.

Baked Cod and Parsley Sauce

Fresh ingredients don’t need too much messing. Use lemon slices if you can’t get samphire.

Seal the parcel and put them into a 200º C oven for 15 minutes. Get the big knife out again. Don’t waive it about and be sure to chop the parsley.


Use plenty of parsley. You can’t have too much parsley in a parsley sauce.

Against my better judgement, I went with the complicated way of making a white sauce.

My way is to add butter, flour and milk to the saucepan. Stir it until it thickens. Simmer it for 5 minutes to cook the flour. I guarantee you will have a lump free, smooth white sauce.

The other way is to make a roux by melting the butter and slowly adding the flour.

Parsley Sauce

A lot of needless work in making this sauce.

Then slowly add the milk, stirring constantly until you have a sauce made. Whichever way you go with the sauce, add the parsley and stir it in.

Take the parcels out of the oven. No need for waving any big knives around the place. Open the parcels and carefully pour the liquid into the sauce.

Baked Cod and Parsley Sauce

No need for salted fish stock stuff if you use the wine and juices.

Stir it in. Serve the fish with potatoes. Pour the sauce over and, if I may borrow a line from Richard McGary, “Serve and enjoy”.

Baked Cod and Parsley Sauce

We scoffed the full pint of sauce between three of us. It was delicious. New potatoes helped.

This is not complicated or difficult. There is oodles of flavour in the sauce and it works brilliantly with the fish. If the version on the link above is “restaurant quality” then you should eat at home more often.

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  • Love the way you’re pouring that sauce!

    • Thanks Rosemary. Perhaps we overdid it but it was so tasty, we just had to.

  • ‘KISS’ he claims and then in the 1st paragraph he throws in ‘obfuscating’! Be ashamed of yourself, Conor Bofin.
    But you are so right though; with great ingredients simplicity is invariably the way. It looks scrummy too. Mind you, that MPW knows a thing or 2 himself.
    Lovely post and photos as always.

    • Thanks Adam. It really was very easy indeed.

  • ‘You do it your way and I’ll do it my way’ . . . and we’ll end up happy together? Oh, I believe in the KISS principle and you made an obviously beautiful dish, but MPW actually makes sense too [to me at least!] . . . And now he is a Dad, he does want to make his dollars and cents at decent hour 🙂 !] Admittedly 21 gms of each butter and flour seems a bit ‘cheffy’ and ‘approx’ methinks is taking the KISS principle a tad too far 😀 !

    • Thanks Eha. I suspect there is room for MPW and me in the world, as long as he puts that knife down.

  • Looks spot on, big juicy hunk of fish with samphire, best not to over complicate a fine dish, I say. As for MPW, total sell out, massive disappointment, and ego, he is (was?) a great cook.

    • That piece of cod was beautifully fresh. Really simple and delicious.

  • I’m all for keeping things simple. Often, some of the more complicated steps out there have no real effect on the meal. They just discourage people from trying.

    • Sometimes, I do overcomplicate things myself. But, thats learning as I go. In all things in life, simple tends to be best.

  • Love the post and the way you prepare the cod! That sure is a lot of parsley sauce — great pouring shot! Not sure if I understand the pun in the title (principle/principal). PS You can add the milk all at once as long as it’s hot, and you can add the flour to the butter all at once as long as it’s on low heat.

    • Neither do I Stefan. Typical of an advertising person. Check all the copy and miss the error in the headline! Fixed now so nobody will know I am a klutz except you and me (and anybody who reads this bit).

      • Oops, didn’t intend to make you feel like a klutz Conor 😉 Sorry about that. I thought I was missing some elaborate pun.

    • Just watched the video, which I hadn’t before because I was reading your post on my phone on the train. Boy, are you right about that guy selling his soul and waving a big knife around! He’s surely the principal of the school for pomposity 🙂

  • Marco, Marco. It’s like watching Bob Dylan busking for loose change (OK, bad example). Lovely dish though Conor – he’s right, I had forgotten about this!

    • Simple to do but it really does not need the addition of Unilever flavour enhancers. Not that I have anything against Unilever.

  • Less is always more, and you’ve shown those dummies how great food doesn’t have to be high falutin or complicated. Well done, sir.

    • I don’t think I could ever do ‘high falutin’ Tommy, even if I tried.

  • Lovely photos and meal, Conor. Great plating shot with the pour of the sauce. I enjoyed the video but disagree with him that I don’t keep fish fumet around the house because I do. Just another stock I keep on hand for sauces for fish. I’m different but you are what you are. 😮 Also, I would prefer making a Japanese Dashi (dried bonito flakes and water – takes less than 6 minutes total including bringing the water to a boil) than using Know-Swiss gelatinized fish concentrate made with who knows what with lots of preservatives, mmm. I must admit I did like the poaching fish in the béchamel sauce because it is a nice touch. The problem with that approach is you lose the flavor of the fish into the béchamel. I prefer your technique which was spot on and adds flavor to the fish AND the sauce. I would definitely eat this. All around great post, thoroughly enjoyable, as always.

    • Thanks Richard. I did angst about it as I really don’t like dissing others. I do mean it in a lighthearted way and the knife conducting becomes so irritating once one notices it…
      Thanks for the kind words,

      • I have always found it a safe practice to avoid people who wildly waive knives and other pointed objects about while trying to show you how to cook. You want the tools of your trade to be like an extension of your arms and hands but there is a limit, especially when they can cause serious damage. I actually thought it was rather comical watching him waive his tools around like he’s saying “Yes, I am a world class chef and can waive these implements of destruction around without harming anyone.” While he is a world class chef, 1) he did sell out to Knorr-Swiss and 2) you can’t tell it from the video. 😮

  • If samphire is citrus in flavour then I’m sure to love it. Sounds perfect with cod. And curly parsley.
    Half smiling here as I just might put my two-in-one parsley sauce post back to draft – and quick! I adore parsley sauce, especially with a really good ham.
    And no, I haven’t viewed the vid, thanks. Too late at night!

    • Hi Johnny, the samphire tastes of the sea. It has a fantastic salty taste. The lemon substitution would change things a bit but would still be excellent IMHO.
      The knife waving is funny. Give it a look when you get up.

  • I have never heard of samphire, but am completely intrigued!!! And I agree, people complicate everything unecessarily (and I am not talking exclusively about the kitchen, am I?) Beautiful dish and I look forward to giving it a go…

    • Thanks Natalia, I pray for a simpler life (as do most of us) but, I think if one can confine the complication to the kitchen, one is doing pretty well.

  • Complicated instructions and knife waving would scare most anyone away from cooking. I love that your recipe is so simple and looks better than his version. Proof elaborate does not equal better.

    • Biggest benefit is the lack of concentrated fish stock flavouring, methinks.

  • If I was waiving that sharp knife around like that I probably would cut the tip of the nose off. Simple is best and your cod looks delicious.

    • Karen, you are too generous in your praise. I once cut off the top of my thumb (cutting an ad out of a newspaper rather than anything culinary) and am pretty respectful ever since.

  • This looks awesome! I love Cod and am always looking for new recipes. I pinned it so I do not lose it! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Bernice, that’s why I put this stuff up there. Let me know how it turns out.

  • That man lost all credibility when he recommended Knorr stock cubes for his dishes on TV. And when he wore bandanas. I’d rather watch Jamie Oliver ruining a salad

    • Strange that. He was in trouble. Big brand rescued him. His reputation got killed in the process. Reputation is important. Very important.

  • Let’s see… the photos. wonderful. I CAN imagine taking 108- especially like the shot of the fish in the aluminum foil- it’s great. I like the sound of Cod with a British accent. I don’t think stupid is on the naughty word list. And I love samphire- we call them sea beans in the pacific northwest. What a great add on to this simple dish. Sometimes it just requires only a little addition to take it up a notch. Cheers to simplicity. I just sold the book Ducasse made simple… go figure. cheers… wendy

  • KISS is the way to go. Let the ingredients shine. I’ve seen several mentions of samphire lately. It is on my list of things to try.

    • Samphire is perfect with good cod for sure. I did it in a tempura recently and it shone. However, my photos did not so no post until the next time.

      • I have posts planned then I see the photos and think nuts. Sometimes it’s hard to juggle the cooking and photography!

  • “You can’t have too much parsley in a parsley sauce.” Yes, indeed. What a beautiful dish! I am fascinated by your usual white sauce. I’ve never heard of that and have always gone with a roux. Will have to try your simple way.

    • Do Michelle. I had reached the stage of doubting myself but the evidence speaks for itself. Also, my Mum swears by the approach and that is good enough for me (and should be for anybody else).

  • That looks amazing. Your sauce and kiss method takes this dish over the top. Will book mark this recipe for later. Have a super weekend. BAM

  • This looks simple and tasty! When I do a white sauce I heat the butter, then after it is melted I add the flour. I turn the heat off, and slowly add the milk until it is combined. I rarely end up with lumps. Then I turn the heat back on and stirring, not with a whisk but a wooden spoon, until the sauce thickens. We had fish last night, and I should have done this dish instead! Looks great Conor!

    • Thanks Barb. There really is no mystery to the white sauce. Giving it a French name seems to elevate it beyond anything we mortals could prepare.

      • Veloute. Bechamel. Roux. Barb’s white sauce! 🙂

  • This looks delicious and easy to make. I have been looking for a cod recipe. This one is perfect. Thank you for sharing. …..danny

    • Thanks Danny. Very simple to do and very tasty.

  • Looks pretty perfect to me.

  • I could sell my soul to have this love;y Cod and that milky white, velvety sauce !

    • Thanks Nusrat, no need to go that far. I would gladly cook it for you.

  • I agree with you totally. So many simple traditional recipes have been overloaded with extra ingredients. I sometimes wonder if the original main ingredient can be tasted.

    • Thank you Maria. I sometimes fall foul of over complication myself. It is usually brought on by over enthusiasm. Hopefully, that is forgivable in an amateur.

  • Samphire :totally new ingredient for me. I haven’t heard nor seen them before. They look like sea asparagus. I’m gonna have to google this!

    • It is one and the same. Truly delicious with any sea fish.

      • You are faster than Google! I am still catching up on reading missed blog posts… BTW: no sea asparagus here. Any other substitution other than lime?

        • Funny enough, any edible seaweed would probably be delicious, in moderation, with it. That has got me thinking….

  • So easy and delicious! Thank you!

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