Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My brand of brandade

This concoction is one of the more astounding things I’ve discovered recently. Given that there is potato involved, we expected something kind of dense. These cakes were like clouds, approaching cotton candy in their airiness. As I understand it, brandade is a combination of salt cod and potato, and can be a dip, a fritter, or, as in my case, a cake (a la crab cake).

I saw brandade cakes (potato with salt cod) being made on Cooking Channel recently. I’d been wondering what to do with the last of the frozen shrimp in the freezer. There wasn’t quite enough to stand alone for dinner, but I make “cakes” with shrimp and catfish from time to time. However, a recent great experience with frozen cod led me to the idea of a sort of brandade with potato, shrimp and cod.

As the TV cook said, I don’t think the exact proportions are terribly important – the cakes just need to hold together. So, below is what I threw together. I use frozen cod because I’ve had so many bad experiences with fresh cod. It seems to get a little stinky awfully quickly and once I’ve gotten that scent in my head it kind of spoils the whole thing for me. Frozen cod isn’t all that great if you treat it like fresh, i.e. sautéing or steaming, but for frying it works and I knew it would work in the brandade. The amounts of potato, shrimp and cod below are pretty arbitrary, but the cakes held together and that was the goal.

Brandade of potato, cod, and shrimp with onion and pepper strips

½ onion, cut into strips
½ red or green bell pepper, cut into strips
¼ tsp smoked paprika
8 oz. russet potato
¼ cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
6 oz. frozen shrimp (31-40’s), thawed and peeled
7 oz. frozen cod, thawed, rinsed and dried
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp paprika
bread crumbs – Panko is great; homemade is better; Italian seasoned is bad
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the onion and bell pepper strips on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside.

Slice the potatoes into 1/2” slices. Put the potatoes into a pot with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove to a sieve with a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking water, mash with ¼ cup heavy cream and 1 tbsp butter and set aside.

Make a court bouillon: To the potato water add 1 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp white vinegar and the 2 garlic cloves. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer covered for 15 minutes.

While the court bouillon heats, cut the cod into 2” pieces. (If using larger shrimp, cut them in half) After simmering the court bouillon, add the cod and shrimp to it and remove the pan from the heat. After 2 minutes, remove the shrimp and put them in a food processor. After 5 minutes, remove the cod and add to food processor. Save ½ cup of the court bouillon and discard the rest. Add the garlic to the food processor too if you wish. I did.

Pulse until roughly chopped and combined. Don’t puree it. Transfer fish to the bowl with the potatoes, add some salt and pepper, and mix together with your hands (wet them with cold water first). Form into cakes. These amounts of ingredients made 7 cakes. If needed, add a bit of the reserved court bouillon. The cakes should hold together well if you handle them with care. Sprinkle them on both sides with a bit of salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat a large skillet over medium high (6 on my 1-10 dial). Add the cakes and sauté until golden brown, turning once – about 3 minutes per side. Be very careful when turning them and they won’t break.
While the cakes sauté, microwave the pepper and onion strips to re-warm them. Serve the cakes over a pile of these strips. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the cakes and serve.


Jenn said...

Your pictures turned out really good!! I don't know if I've ever heard of Brandade before...but I love crab cakes so I'll be giving this a try. They look so incredibly good....Can you just fedex one or two or three to me? Thanks :)

Mhel said...

wow!! Id love to make one, but I might substitute Cod with a different fish, we dont have cods here.. i love potato cakes with crabs, and other stuffs, like the japanese korroke

Pam said...

This is new to me and will have to give it a try. They look great and I would definitely go with the panko!

Mary said...

Your cod cakes look wonderful, Stephen. I haven't made them in years, but you've inspired me. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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