Black Cod with Green Tomatoes

Here's an excerpt from The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, the grand-prize winner of the 2008 Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. by Amelia Saltsman
Publish date:

Everyone has heard of fried green tomatoes, but on a visit to the Coleman farm, I had a revelation about cooking with unripe tomatoes. Bill, an excellent cook, prepared fish using tangy green tomatoes for the sauce. Brilliant! Drawing culinary inspiration from his Filipina wife, Delia, Bill uses patis (Philippine fish sauce) and tamarind sauce to flavor the dish. I experimented using Bill’s suggested seasonings with various fish available at the farmers’ market, and succulent, sweet black cod (sablefish) was the hands-down winner. Look for green tomatoes that have started to take on a little pink, or leave completely green tomatoes on your counter for a couple of days so they start ripening. Either way they will be juicier and more flavorful than if you used fully green tomatoes, but still firm enough to skin with a vegetable peeler. Bearss limes add fruity tartness. Serve the fish with steamed rice.

Makes 4 servings
Spring, Summer

1 1/2 pounds unripe green tomatoes with a blush of color
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons canola or other mild cooking oil
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lime, preferably Bearss or kaffir, halved
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 pound skinned black cod fillet, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, cut into 4 equal pieces
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of fresh whole cilantro or Thai basil leaves or finely slivered kaffir lime leaves

Peel the tomatoes with a vegetable peeler, core, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. In a wide pot, sauté the onion in the oil over medium-low heat with 2 teaspoons of the fish sauce until translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and the remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Raise the heat to medium and cook uncovered until the tomatoes lose their bright color and start to break down, about 5 minutes. Add the juice of 1/2 lime and the stock, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes completely break down, about 15 minutes. The sauce can be made up to 6 hours ahead and reheated.

Just before serving, season the fish pieces with salt and pepper and place on top of the hot sauce in the pan. Spoon a little of the sauce over the fish, squeeze the juice of the remaining lime half over all, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until the fish is opaque at the center when tested with a knife tip, about 5 minutes. Scatter the cilantro over the fish.


Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.