"As with meat I love fish on the bone. Why? Because the bones give a lot of flavour to the dish that wouldn't ordinarily be there if cooked filleted," says Bart van Olphen of this dish, from his new cookbook Bart's Fish Tales.

The strength of this dish is in its simplicity – pinto beans and the meaty texture and flavour of cod steaks, with pinto beans and a carefully chosen balance of herbs. It's a warming taste of the Mediterranean.

Ingredients

  • 300g dried pinto beans
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped from their stalks
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 4 x 160-180g cod steaks
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Groundnut (peanut) oil, for frying
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Drain and rinse the beans by running cold water over them.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a deep pan over a medium-high heat and sauté the carrot, onion and celery for 2 minutes until translucent.
  3. Pour in 1 litre of cold water, add the bay leaves, thyme – reserving a few thyme leaves for garnish – and the beans. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40–50 minutes or until the beans are tender but still have some 'bite'. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the beans to keep them warm.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour until smooth. Cook over a low heat for 1-2 minutes. Add 200ml of the bean cooking liquid and stir or whisk until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Stir in the beans and sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat some groundnut (peanut) oil for shallow frying in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the cod until lightly browned on both sides. This will take 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks.
  6. Spoon the pinto beans into deep serving plates and lift the cod steaks on top. Garnish with the reserved thyme leaves.

Bart van Olphen's Bart’s Fish Tales: A Fishing Adventure cookbook. Photography by David Loftus. Published by Pavilion