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A dish traditional in the Languedoc and Provence areas of France. It is composed of pounded salt cod (which has been previously soaked in water), garlic and olive oil; on completion, the whole resembling mashed potatoes.
Indeed the dish is often diluted with a roughly equal quantity of mashed potato. The finished dish is often served with a fried egg on top.
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750g/1lb salt cod
284ml/½ pint olive oil (slightly warmed)
284ml/½ pint milk, slightly warmed
1 big clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
a little freshly ground Black Pepper
a little grated Nutmeg
- Soak the fish in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water several times. If the fish is not completely soft, continue soaking until it is.
- Drain the fish, putting it into a big saucepan of cold water.
- Slowly bring the fish to the boil, then reduce the heat until the water barely ripples. Cooking it too aggressively will result in a stringy texture. Remove from the heat when the fish can be flaked easily with a fork - this might just take 15 minutes, but might take considerably longer; this depends on how much salt it was preserved with originally. However, if you cook it slowly, you can't go wrong!
- Remove the fish from the liquid, and when cool enough to handle remove any skin and small bones.
- Heat the oil and milk separately until they are warm.
- In a big bowl (using a strong fork) or better still in a food processor, chop the fish with the chopped garlic until fairly smooth; then gradually add the warmed oil and milk alternately a spoonful at a time, mixing all the time (use 'Pulse' if using a processor, being careful not to over-process) - each addition should be incorporated thoroughly before the next is added.
- Add the lemon juice, pepper (note no additional salt is necessary) nutmeg and mix well together.
Serve as a dip in the same way you would taramasalata or houmous with good French bread or pitta bread. Or more traditionally mix with an equal quantity of mashed potato and serve topped with a lightly fried egg.