Brandade with wilted endive, mussels and dried olives
Brandade is traditionally made with salt cod. This recipe uses local fish, rather than imported, and employs an overnight salting method that results in a beautifully bright and fresh end product. Add some quality grilled sourdough, freshly opened mussels, salty and savoury dried olives, rich egg yolk and flash-wilted endive and you've got a perfect dish for entertaining.
Brandade with wilted endive, mussels and dried olives. Photo: Marcel Aucar
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A good splash of dry sherry or white wine
1kg live mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
3 handfuls curly endive
Extra virgin olive oil
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 handful semi-dried olives
8 slices sourdough bread
4 cups rock salt
500g thick fillet blue eye trevalla, skin and bones removed, cut in three equal pieces
2 large desiree potatoes, peeled
1 litre milk
1 fresh bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, 3 sliced and 1 finely grated
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Juice of 2 lemons
150-200ml extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1. To make the brandade, place half the salt in a ceramic or plastic container. Lay the fish on top of the salt and then cover with the remaining salt. Refrigerate for 12 hours.
2. When you're ready to remove the fish from the fridge, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and mash or pass through a mouli and keep warm.
3. Remove the fish from the salt and rinse thoroughly with water.
4. Bring the milk, bay leaf, sliced garlic and peppercorns to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the fish and poach for six minutes over medium heat. Remove the fish from the milk and check that it's cooked through.
5. Flake the fish into a food processor, making sure to remove any bones. Add the potato and grated garlic and process. Add half the lemon juice and drizzle in the oil while processing – how much oil it needs will vary, but you want to end up with a thick emulsion. Add a splash of the poaching milk and process until you have a smooth and creamy paste. Grind in plenty of black pepper and add more lemon juice if necessary, keeping any extra to dress the endive.
6. Heat a large pot over high heat and add the sherry. Add the mussels, cover and steam for a couple of minutes until they open and are cooked. Once cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from their shells.
7. Boil about one centimetre of water in a frying pan and wilt the endive for a few seconds. Drain and dress with a little lemon juice and oil.
8. Pile the mussels onto a plate with the endive next to them. Add the brandade to another plate, grate the yolks over the top and scatter over the olives.
9. Toast or grill the bread and serve on the side.
To serve: Plate this up and just let your guests help themselves.
1. Instead of fresh fish, you could buy thick fillets of salt cod instead. It will just need to be soaked for about eight hours in water to rehydrate and leach out some of the salt, and the water will need to be changed a few times over that period.
2. Try to always serve the brandade at room temperature - the flavour and texture is so much better than when chilled.
3. You could also turn the brandade into croquettes. Roll cold mix into balls, crumb and fry until golden. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.