On any given day in the posh Batignolles neighborhood of Paris, one can turn the corner at Rue Legendre onto Rue Nollet and follow the trail of spicy, sweet, and savory aromas to Les Secrets Gourmands de Noémie, one of the city’s most sensational cooking schools. Noémie, who graduated from one of the world’s finest (Lenotre) opens her doors to intimate groups of amateur chefs and gourmet dilettantes. For those of us who are not used to eating such elegant meals for lunch (spread half an avocado on a piece of toast and top it with a slice of tomato and voila! Annalee has lunch!), you are in for a lesson in lunchtime refinement. Light eater, meet beurre. I can still hear Noémie’s voice go down an octave as she says ‘then we add a nut of butter.’ Menu du jour: cod fillets and chorizo with red pepper sauce.
Ingredients for 8 servings:
8 pieces of thick cod fillets, 16 slices chorizo, 4 red peppers, 2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 2 tsp tomato paste, 100 ml water, pinch of granulated sugar, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 440 degrees F. Put peppers on baking tray and bake for about 35 minutes, turning occasionally. Peppers must be grilled perfectly. Leave at room temp in plastic zip lock bag or wrapped in aluminum foil. Peel and slice onion. Peel and crush garlic clove. Cook onion in olive oil and add garlic. Cook for a few more minutes. When peppers are cold, peel them and remove seeds. Chop and saute peppers in pan with olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle with sugar, season with salt, and add the tomato paste and water. Cook for 5-10 more minutes. Mix vegetables to get a sauce. If you like, add a spoon of liquid cream for a smoother consistency.
In a large pan, warm 2 tbsp olive oil with a nut of butter. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Saute the fillets over high heat, about 2 minutes on each side. Add chorizo slices.
Place the fish in the center of the plate. Top with chorizo slices. Spoon the pepper sauce around. Decorate with fresh herbs and serve with basmati rice or fingerling potatoes steamed in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a few tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.