Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A spontaneous 'Brandade'

I was lazing around on my big sofa earlier, scratching my balls and drinking vodka as I am known to do occasionally. I was flicking idly though some copies of 'Gourmet' and came across some fish recipes. I'm not sure where my inspiration came from, but I thought about making brandade, a French fish dish. (I doubt it has a French origin to be honest. Iberian most likely.) The recipe uses salt cod or bacalao whipped up with some spuds, scalded cream and garlic-laden olive oil. I was feeling peckish, and I decided making it would be my drunken task for the night. I found countless recipes and variations and after peering into the darkness of my fridge, I realised I did indeed have some salt cod, but didn't have 3 days to soak the salt out. So I couldn't follow the original recipe according to the omnipotent Larousse, rather I'd have to use my noodle a bit and do the best I could under the circumstances.

I had a can of Albacore. I had olive oil and garlic. I didn't have any spuds, unusually, or cream, but I had some leftover Dauphinois potatoes in a baking dish in the fridge. That was fucking lucky. It contains spud and cream and garlic so I thought this would make a fine base for the fish. So I had my prerequisites.

I heated a small pan of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic over a medium heat. I didn't want to burn or colour the garlic, so I took it straight off when it looked like it might start sizzling. I put the tuna into the Cuisinart and gave it a whizz. I added the creamy spud and whizzed that in. I slowly dribbled in the warm garlic flavoured oil and kept my finger on the trigger until it was an amorphous violet goop. I wiped a finger around in the bowl and decided it was brilliant. I grabbed a couple of ramekins, spooned some of those salt-cured capers in the bottom, slopped a great big dollop of the pink paste on top, covered it with some breadcrumbs I made in the blender from old bread in the fridge, sprinkled them with oil and popped them under a hot grill for 3 minutes. I knocked up a tomato, artichoke and fennel seed salad to accompany it and plated it up. I dipped a warm spoon into the ramekin for a second taste. Crunchy on top, followed by fishy slickness then a good kick of salt from the capers at the bottom. I have eaten great brandade before in restaurants, and my spontaneous version fell way short of the brilliant white maritime cream good chefs turn out. Not bad for 15 minutes work though. I felt rather smug as I fed my face.

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