MITCH TONKS, of the Seahorse in Dartmouth, this week makes salt cod with olive oil and wine vinegar.
MY FRIEND Orlando in Portugal told me about his mother's recipe for salt cod. He said it was absolutely delicious — it was soaked, grilled over a fire, then drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.
Sounds too simple really, but one day when I was putting a book together I decided to give it a go and the result was fantastic, a wonderful smell and a wonderful flavour.
It was like eating the best fish and chips but without any batter. You'll have to take my word for it or try it yourself.
The process for salting cod was of course a preservative, but the interesting thing from a culinary point of view is as the texture changes, you still have big white flakes of cod but they are somehow meatier and more substantial.
Ingredients (serves four):
Four x 175g cod pieces from the thick end; 800g rock salt; good olive oil; white wine vinegar.
START the dish a few days in advance. Lay the cod in a plastic container and sprinkle the salt over the fish.
After 24 hours you will notice a fair bit of liquid the salt will have extracted from the cod. This is what we want. Remove, then wash it well before soaking in cold water in the fridge for a further 24 hours. Remove and dry thoroughly.
Taste a tiny piece to make sure the rinsing has removed a marked salt taste, it is not supposed to taste over-salty.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Lightly brush the fish with olive oil and lay flesh-side down in a hot grill pan or griddle on top of the stove for four minutes.
Turn it over and continue to cook for another two to three minutes then finish in the pre-heated oven for a couple of extra minutes. Put on to serving plates and drizzle with olive oil and white wine vinegar to your taste.
Great served with fresh peas and mint and creamy mashed potatoes or even some chips.