Have you tried cod mornay? Boneless and skinless fillets of cod and king prawns are smothered in a deliciously creamy and cheesy Gruyère sauce, then baked in the oven.
There's very little preparation for this dish and it takes just 20 minutes to cook, so it's perfect for weeknights too. And, if you are worried about making the cheese béchamel sauce, don't be. I'll show you my foolproof easy version.
Serve this dish with dish with boiled new potatoes and broccoli and there will be plenty of sauce to dip the vegetables in too.
After all, who can resist a great cheese sauce?
Do you remember boil in the bag fish? Think of frozen fish portions in a cheese sauce, all individually wrapped in a thick plastic. The idea is that it was easy and quick to boil it in the saucepan. The reality was that to open the bag without getting burned or spilling the contents was a highly skilled job!
This recipe is way easier, much safer and you can even use my cheats method to make the sauce too. Better than that, it's made from scratch but can still be on the table, with all the veggies in just 30 minutes!
As this uses skinless fillets, which tend to be boneless, this is a great meal for families or for people who are not big fish eaters. Cod is quite a mild flavoured fish and combined with the cheesy creamy sauce, it won't taste overly fishy.
I've added prawns for a little luxury, so that you can use this dish for date night or entertaining friends. Just don't tell anyone how easy it is!
A mornay sauce is basically a cheese sauce that is known as a daughter sauce in French cooking. The mother sauce is the béchamel, more commonly known as a white sauce. Mornay sauce is also used in Mac and Cheese, and Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese.
A combination of pantry staples and frozen fish make cooking from scratch a breeze.
- Cod loin - boneless and skinless fillets, fresh or frozen and defrosted.
- Raw king prawns - deveined and shelled. Fresh or frozen and defrosted.
- Gruyère cheese - this Swiss cheese melts well and is a favourite in French cooking.
- Butter - essential flavour for sauces. If you use salted butter check the seasoning of the sauce at the end, as you may not need to add any salt to the dish.
- Plain flour - also known as all purpose flour for thickening the sauce.
- Milk - full fat milk for creaminess.
- Black pepper - freshly ground
- Fresh chives - optional for extra flavour in the sauce.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Medium saucepan - heavy based, for making the sauce
- Wooden spoon
- Balloon whisk - if you are following the easy version
- 4 individual ovenproof gratin dishes
If the cod is in one piece cut into individual portions.
Divide the fish and prawns between the gratin dishes.
💭 Top tip
- If you are using frozen fish make sure that it is defrosted and then lay it on kitchen paper for 5 minutes. It's important to soak up the excess water from freezing otherwise it will make the sauce watery.
Easy Béchamel Sauce
This version is not technically correct but you will get very similar results. It's perfect if you are not keen on making your own sauce.
- Put the cold milk in a saucepan with the butter and flour.
- Over a medium heat, start whisking constantly until the butter melts and combines with the flour and milk.
- Allow the sauce to come to a simmer for 1 minute then the sauce is ready to use to add the flavourings.
Classic Béchamel Sauce
Heat the milk in a saucepan, over a medium heat, until it comes to a simmer. Turn off the heat and transfer the milk to a jug.
Add the butter to the pan and heat until melted then tip in the flour and stir to combine. Keep stirring for a minute.
💭 Top tip
- It is important to cook the flour properly. If you skip this stage the sauce will have a floury taste.
This is called the roux base of the sauce.
Now add a quarter of the milk to the pan, stirring all the time.
To start with you will have milk with a paste running through it and you might think there is a problem. Don't panic as this is normal.
Keep stirring and it should come together into a smooth thick sauce quickly.
If the sauce is coming to a simmer and not becoming a smooth mixture, take it straight off the heat and continue to stir. At this point you can use a whisk vigorously to break up anything solid that is left.
Stir in the rest of the milk and cook for a further minute until the sauce is thick and glossy.
Turn off the heat and add half of the cheese. Stir it through to melt.
Add the chives and some freshly ground black pepper then check the seasoning before adding any salt.
Divide the sauce evenly between the dishes and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
⏲️ Cooking time
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/160FAN/Gas4.
Put the dishes on a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.
The cod mornay will be piping hot so allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving.
💭 Top tip
- When cooked, put the dishes under a medium grill for a few minutes for a gratin topping.
- Try using a whole fillet and covering with sauce, rather than individual dishes but allow another 10 minutes of cooking time.
🥗 Side dishes
- boiled new potatoes or mashed potatoes
- honey glazed carrots
- roasted root vegetables
- cavolo nero kale
- steamed broccoli
- duchess potatoes
- crispy smashed potatoes
- roast potatoes
- potatoes pavé
- peas or green beans
- buttered samphire
- Gluten free - omit the flour and add 1 tablespoon of cornflour/cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Use the easy method.
- Cheese - use a mature or sharp cheddar cheese instead.
- Milk - use semi skimmed or skimmed for a lighter version
- Cod - swap the cod with haddock, coley, hake, pollack or other white fish. Salmon and smoked haddock also works well
- Deluxe - add scallops along with the prawns and even chunks of monkfish. Replace some of the milk with single cream.
Cool any leftovers to room temperature then cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Cover with foil and reheat in the oven.
I don't recommend freezing the cod mornay as the sauce will tend to separate.
Aside from being the perfect sauce for lasagne try:
Adding two tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley for fish or use tarragon for chicken.
Pouring over cooked leaks and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Brown under a medium grill.
Turn it into a soubise, (onion based), sauce for serving with meats
More fish ideas
- wooden spoon
- balloon whisk
- 600 g cod skinless and boneless
- 200 g king prawns shelled and deveined
- 170 g Gruyère cheese
- 50 g butter
- 50 g flour plain or all purpose
- 500 ml whole milk
- 1 tablespoon chives fresh and chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/160FAN/Gas4.
- Divide the fish and prawns between the gratin dishes.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan, over a medium heat, until it comes to a simmer then turn off the heat and transfer the milk to a jug.
- Add the butter to the pan and heat until melted then tip in the flour and stir to combine for 1 minute.
- Pour in a quarter of the milk to the pan, stirring all the time as the sauce comes together then add the rest of the milk.
- Cook stirring until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens, then cook for a further minute.
- Take the sauce off the heat and add the pepper, half of the cheese and chives. Stir to combine and check the seasoning.
- Divide the sauce evenly between the dishes and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Put the dishes on a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended'
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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