Pinto beans with cod and thyme Bart’s Fish Tales by Bart Van Olphen, published by Pavilion. Photographs by David Loftus
Pinto beans with cod and thyme (Serves 4)

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. We should learn that there is a good reason to use the whole of the fish and cut pieces straight through the bone. You benefit from extra flavour and it is less expensive because there is no waste.

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 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 x 160–180-g cod steaks
extra virgin olive oil
peanut oil, for frying
salt and pepper
Alternative fish: haddock or hake

Soak the pinto beans in a large bowl of cold water for 12 hours. 
Drain and rinse the beans by running cold water over them. 
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.
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.
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.
Heat some 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. Spoon the pinto beans into deep serving plates and lift the cod steaks on top. Garnish with the reserved thyme leaves.

Recipe extracted from  Bart’s Fish Tales by Bart Van Olphen, published by Pavilion with p hotography by David Loftus. The book retails for R521 on Click here to purchase

The Independent