This poached cod, served in a Fresno pepper coconut milk broth with spinach and a hint of lime zest, is ready in about 15 minutes.
4.78 from 36 votes

By Christie Vanover | Published September 27, 2019 | Last Updated February 16, 2023

cod in coconut milk broth with spinach and fresno peppers

Are you afraid to cook fish? A lot of people I know are. They tell me that it falls apart after sticking to the grill or it turns out like rubber. 

This is a no-fail fish recipe that is so flavorful and easy to make. The cod poaches in a buttery coconut milk broth, and you can cook it in a skillet on the stove or over a campfire.  

To start, saute some Fresno peppers and lime zest in a pat of butter. 

Fresno peppers have a heat level that is similar to jalapeños. I love them in this recipe, because they make the dish so vibrant, and the heat balances with the creamy broth.

Unfortunately, my grocery store doesn’t always stock Fresno peppers. When that happens, I just use red peppers and add a pinch of chile flakes. You can substitute jalapeños, too…you’ll just be missing the bright red contrast. 

cod simmering in coconut lime broth.

For this recipe, the cod cooks quickly in a poaching liquid of coconut milk and chicken broth. Be sure to use coconut milk, not cream of coconut. Cream of coconut is better saved for your pina coladas, because it’s full of sugar. 

After the fish is cooked, add a large handful of raw spinach to the broth. The pop of green makes for a beautiful presentation. 

Types of Fish

Mild and Unfishy

If you don’t like fish because you’ve tried some that taste and smell really fishy, try a whitefish instead. Most whitefish like cod, halibut, mahi mahi and sea bass are very mild. Cod is what’s often used in fish sticks, which even finicky kids love. Sea bass and halibut have a rich, buttery taste, so they are a little more expensive, but so worth it.

High in Omega 3

If you choose a red fish like salmon or tuna, you’ll get the added benefits of higher Omega 3s, which are great for your heart. These fish are a little more firm and do have a hint of fish flavor, but they are meaty and satisfying.


I am not a fan of mackerel or sardines. They’re high in Omega 3s, too, but they definitely have a more fishy taste. In fact, mackerel patties remind me of cat food, not something I want to eat. If you’re not a fish fan, I recommend passing on these varieties.


If you still aren’t comfortable with eating Nemo, try shellfish, such as shrimp, crab or lobster. They’re pricier, but very mild and versatile. Some people don’t like shellfish because of the texture. If you marinade them in acid like lemon juice or cook them too long, they will get mealy and rubbery. Instead, skip the marinade. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook them just until they turn pink and add the lemon juice and butter at the end.

How to Cook Fish

Grilling? Leave it Alone!

The most important tip when grilling fish is to oil the filet; put it on the grill and leave it alone. In about 5-6 minutes, it will get a nice sear and will release on its own, so you can flip it. If you try to flip it too soon, it will stick. I promise.

Baking? Wrap it Up!

If you want fish that’s not dried out, wrap it in parchment paper or cook it in a covered dish. This keeps the moisture locked in, so the fish is nice and flaky.  Just be sure the other ingredients in your pouch or baking dish will be ready in 15 minutes, too. Fish cooks fast.

Frying? Beer Please!

A mixture of 1 bottle of beer and 1 ½ cups of flour makes the perfect batter every time. Dunk the seasoned fish in the batter and fry in one-inch of 350-degree oil. Serve it with malted vinegar or tartar sauce and another bottle of beer.

No Matter the Method – Make it Fast

Fish cooks super fast. Honestly, it’s ready in 10-15 minutes. If you cook it longer, it turns rubbery. Grilling takes about 5 minutes per side. You can bake filets in about 15 minutes. Or fry your beer-battered filets in less than 10 minutes.

cod in coconut milk broth with spinach and fresno peppers

Coconut Milk Poached Cod with Spinach

This poached cod, served in a Fresno pepper coconut milk broth with spinach and a hint of lime zest, is ready in about 15 minutes.
4.78 from 36 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 3 fresno peppers
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cod filets
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 2 pinches white pepper
  • 4 cups spinach


  • Dice the peppers, zest the lime and cut the lime in half.
  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the peppers and lime zest, until tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, juice from half a lime and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil.
  • Sprinkle salt and white pepper on each side of the cod filets. Gently place the filets into the broth. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the fish flakes.
  • Remove the filets from the broth and place each in a wide soup bowl.
  • Add the spinach to the skillet. Continue cooking until the spinach is tender.
  • Squeeze the juice from the other half of the lime into the skillet and stir to combine.
  • Evenly spoon the broth into each bowl.


Calories: 333kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 24gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 823mgPotassium: 943mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 3060IUVitamin C: 32mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 5mg

This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator

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