This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce. It's perfect for date night or Derby Day! Best of all-- it's ready in about 15 minutes!

Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce. It's perfect for date night or Derby Day! Best of all-- it's ready in about 15 minutes!

Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce.  It’s perfect for date night or Derby Day!  Best of all– it’s ready in about 15 minutes!  This post is sponsored by Orca Bay, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Years and years ago, before I happily devoured seafood day after day, I ordered a bourbon-glazed fish at a restaurant… and was AMAZED.  Back then, I wasn’t really sure what bourbon tasted like, and I wasn’t even sure what types of fish I liked best, let alone how to fix fish at home.  What I realized that day, though, is that bourbon with fish is a fantabulously delicious combination, and I wanted more!  This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod is perfect for a fancy-schmancy date night and bourbon-filled Derby Day parties, but is so quick, easy, and delicious that you could make it for a weeknight dinner too!

In a hurry? Jump to the recipe!

This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce. It's perfect for date night or Derby Day! Best of all-- it's ready in about 15 minutes!

Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

Buying Quality Seafood

A couple of months back, my in-laws tried a cod recipe from a meal delivery company, and fell in love.  In fact, they loved it so much that they immediately went out, bought more cod, and followed the recipe again.  Sadly, it wasn’t as delicious the second time.  Why not?  The fish.  No matter how delicious a recipe SHOULD be, if the fish itself doesn’t start out healthy and delicious, the end result won’t be as wonderful as it should have been.

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How can you tell if you’re getting quality fish?  For one thing, you can look for sustainably sourced fish.  If you aren’t sure what that means, it’s basically choosing to buy fish that is farmed in a way that keeps the oceans healthy.  In other words, the companies catching the fish should do their best to make sure they aren’t disrupting the ecosystems they’re working in.  They’re trying to keep the planet and fish populations happy and healthy, while still allowing hungry humans to enjoy seafood for dinner.

What does this have to do with your dinner?  Obviously, we all want a healthy planet, but on a smaller, less grandiose scale– Healthy fish TASTE BETTER.  When you’re walking through the supermarket, and you reach for fish, pause for a second to compare your options.  What should you look for?  The number one thing I look for is transparency.  Where did this fish come from?  Does the label tell me?  Does the company selling the fish give me enough information to find out if this fish is sustainable?

If thinking through each and every fish purchase seems like a lot of work– I agree.  My favorite way to buy fish is to find a source that I trust, and stick with it.  That way, when I’m in a hurry, I know what to look for.  For the last year or so, my absolute favorite seafood supplier has been Orca Bay.  They clearly label their seafood– how it was caught, where it’s from, and even what specific fishing zone it was caught in.  I like that– a lot.

If you want to try Orca Bay, but need help finding their products, check out their store finder, order online (using the promo code: champagnetastes for 15% off!), or try these vendors: Ingles, Giant Eagle, Dierbergs, and Natural Grocers / Vitamin Cottage.  (Note: if you don’t have one of these stores in your local area, but do have a health food store, check there!  That’s where I find my Orca Bay fish.)

This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce. It's perfect for date night or Derby Day! Best of all-- it's ready in about 15 minutes!

Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

Making Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

For this decadent Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod, you’re going to need bourbon, honey (or sorghum syrup),* balsamic vinegar, a little butter and olive oil, and a few fresh herbs.  Oh, and cod.  Don’t forget the cod!  Since some cod is overfished, try to stick with a Pacific cod.  I use Orca Bay’s wild caught Alaskan cod.

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Once you’ve got all your ingredients, start by drying off your fish.  The drier the fish, the more easily it will sear.  Pat it dry, and then set it aside.  Meanwhile, get all the ingredients for your ‘gastrique.’  (‘Gastrique’ is a French word that means… ‘extra super-duper-fancy-pants sauce,’ — I believe that’s a direct translation.  Don’t quote me.)

Combine the bourbon and balsamic, and set it aside (but within arm’s reach).  Pour the honey into a small saucepan over medium heat, and it should start bubbling within 1-2 minutes.  Once the bubbles start, stir it with a wooden spoon until the honey turns a dark amber color (about 2-3 more minutes).  As soon as– and I do mean AS SOON AS– the honey darkens, grab the bourbon-balsamic mixture and, standing as far back from the pan as possible to avoid getting splashed, pour the mixture in.  Continue stirring for another couple of minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.  Set the sauce to the side, and get ready to cook the fish.  (Keep in mind that if your sauce cools down too much while the fish is cooking, it will thicken up and be hard to pour.  If this happens, simply put it back on medium heat for about a minute, or until it heats up again.)

This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce. It's perfect for date night or Derby Day! Best of all-- it's ready in about 15 minutes!

Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

Since cod takes a little longer to sear than a thinner fish would, I like to use both butter and olive oil when I’m searing it.  That way, the butter doesn’t brown as quickly and the oil doesn’t start smoking.  Heat your butter and oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the cod and DO NOT TOUCH IT.  Leave it alone, and set a timer for 4 minutes.*  Then, flip it, and cook it for another 4 minutes.  When it’s finished, the flesh should be white and flaky in the center, with seared golden edges.

Drizzle the seared cod with your bourbon gastrique, and top everything off with some fresh herbs.  Serve it right away, and savor each bite of this decadently rich fish dinner!

*Note: Sorghum syrup is a thick syrup made from sugar cane, and is popular in Kentucky.  It has a texture similar to molasses, and works really well in this recipe!  If you can find it, give it a try!  Otherwise, honey will work perfectly.

*Also Note: Normally, I prefer to simply watch the fish cook through so that I know when to flip it.  When raw fish is very translucent, it becomes opaque as it cooks.  When searing, you can wait until the fish is about 3/4 of the way cooked through, and then flip it.  This trick would PROBABLY work for cod, but Pacific cod is already fairly white and opaque when it’s raw, making it harder to judge the cook-time by eye.  For this fish, I prefer to set a timer.

Need a side dish to serve with your cod?  Try this:

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Lemon Roasted Asparagus

This Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod features flaky white cod topped with a sweet bourbon sauce. It's perfect for date night or Derby Day! Best of all-- it's ready in about 15 minutes!
5 from 11 votes
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Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod


Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 413 kcal
Author Champagne Tastes

Ingredients

  • 2 cod fillets (~4 oz each) (recommendation- Orca Bay cod)
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup honey OR sorghum syrup
  • diced green onion, parsley, and or basil to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pat cod dry, and then pat it dry again. Allow it to come to room temperature.

  2. Meanwhile, pour balsamic vinegar and bourbon together and set aside. Keep the balsamic-bourbon mixture within arm's reach, so that you can grab it quickly when the honey is ready.

  3. Pour honey into a small, heavy bottom pot and turn heat to medium. In about 1-2 minutes, the honey should start to bubble. Stir it with a wooden spoon until the honey darkens in color and turns amber (about 3 more minutes). (*Note- The caramelizing honey will be EXTREMELY hot. Do not touch it or attempt to taste it at this point.)

  4. Carefully, standing back from the pot in case of splash-back, pour the balsamic and bourbon mixture into the pot with the honey.  Stir, and cook for 1-2 more minutes.  Take sauce off the heat, and set aside.  (*Note- If the sauce cools and thickens too much while the fish is cooking, simply set it back on the heat for about a minute, or until it heats up again.)

  5. Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat. 

  6. Salt both sides of the cod.

  7. Set cod in hot pan, and DO NOT TOUCH IT. Set a timer for 4 minutes, and don't touch the cod until the timer goes off. (If your butter smokes a little, lower the heat slightly.)

  8. Next, use a thin metal spatula to flip the cod. If it sticks to the pan, wait another 30 seconds. The fish will release when it's done cooking. Cook for another 4 minutes, and transfer to plates.  

  9. Serve fish immediately with bourbon sauce, along with fresh herbs (optional).  

Recipe Notes

*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal.

39 thoughts on “Kentucky Bourbon Seared Cod

  1. Andrea Brom says:

    This recipe is amazing, that glaze is calling my name! The fish looks perfectly cooked, flaky and moist. I am gonna have to look into Orca Bay! It’s hard to find good frozen fish sometimes.

  2. Luci's Morsels says:

    This looks delicious! Thank you for the tips on high quality seafood. This certainly looks like great fish! The sauce also looks amazing. I am going to have to give this recipe a shot!

  3. Dawn - Girl Heart Food says:

    Oh wow! I’ve never had cod with bourbon before. I mean, I’ve had bourbon, I’ve had cod, but not together! This looks so good. That glaze? Um, yes please! I’ve been really picky with my seafood lately and going to have to check out Orca Bay. Thanks so much 🙂

  4. Meg | Meg is Well says:

    That Kentucky Bourbon sauce looks amazing!!! Drizzled on top of that beautiful sear-so much drooling going on right now! It is so hard to be patient and wait for the right time to flip the fish. I think I’ve finally gotten it down but still, I sometimes feel like I have to sit on my hands in order to not flip too soon.

    • champagne-tastes says:

      lol yes! And if you flip too soon, sometimes it doesn’t sear as prettily! Just walk away and let it cook haha 😀

    • champagne-tastes says:

      I haven’t tried it with molasses, but I THINK it would be fine! Since molasses isn’t quite as sweet as sorghum, I’d expect it to be a little less sweet overall (but that could be really good!). Let me know how it turns out if you try it! I don’t have any molasses on hand or I’d do it myself (it sounds yummy!)

  5. Julie says:

    You are so right that using the best fish is so important. I’ve even had substandard fish from places that say it’s fresh. Being land locked I buy more frozen and read the labels where it was farmed. I love the bourbon glaze that you put on this beautiful fish. We will definitely be trying it.

  6. Lisa | Garlic & Zest says:

    We eat fish at least three times per week and cod is usually on our menu. I feel fortunate to have a reputable fish monger about 2 miles from my house (they’re not cheap, but they’re good) and I’m there often enough that I get the “friends and family” discount LOL! Next time I’m in, I’ll pick up some cod for this recipe. We love cooking with bourbon here, too — I make a bourbon glazed salmon that everyone loves. I wish you lived closer, we could taste test each other’s recipes!

    • champagne-tastes says:

      Aw man I’d totally go fish shopping with you too!! We could be fish friends lololol. Let me know how you like it!!

  7. Leah says:

    This fish sounds fantastic, and we just don’t eat enough of it! The sauce sounds like perfection, and I think I could just eat a bowl of it! What a great idea, and now I am inspired to make this!

  8. Sean@Diversivore says:

    I have cooked a lot of seafood over the years, but I have yet to use bourbon (or any whiskey for that matter) as a flavour. Gotta say, I’m very impressed, and very curious. Cod is such a lovely fish, and it’s neutral enough to do so many things with, so I’m sure that this is absolutely incredible. As always, I appreciate your passion for sustainable and transparent seafood. I’m not sure if Orca Bay sells here in Canada (I’m sooooo close to Washington anyway), but I like their commitment to the same principles. Cheers.

    • champagne-tastes says:

      I’m not positive if they ship to Canada or not!!! But they’re located in Seattle, so you’re super close to them!!!! Let me know if you give this a try!

  9. Silvia says:

    Thank you so much for the information. When we eat fish or any seafood, for that matter, we want to know the source of it. I totally agree that it tastes much better. It’s more expensive, this way, we eat less meat and fish for dinner, and we focus on quality.

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