Can’t believe it’s the eve before the eve of Christmas.
Although I’m not Italian, not evenly remotely so, I’ve always wanted to do a Feast of the Seven Fishes — an Italian Christmas Eve celebration. For my hypothetical seafood feast, I would start with some oysters, brandade, or smoked fish pâté, followed by octopus (of course), pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines), a seafood stew of sorts, a whole grilled fish stuffed with herbs, and this salad — salada de bacalhau com grão — or salt cod with chickpeas and hard-boiled egg.
Can’t imagine trying to make all these dishes in my tiny (Brooklyn) kitchen that is missing one very essential feature — space (counter space in particular) 🙂 Who wants to make a fish/seafood dish and join me at my Feast of the Seven Fishes? Divide and conquer.
I discovered this particular preparation of salt cod in Portugal. It’s simple yet highly satisfying. I like this salad with big chunks of salt cod. The dressing is garlic infused olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve this salad at room temperature.
I recently posted this salt cod dish — Bacalhau à Brás — or salt cod with potatoes, onions, eggs, and black olive crumbs — a kind of crispy potato hash gone wild with chunks of salt cod and scrambled eggs. It’s comfort food times ten.
And then there’s bacalao (Spanish spelling) fritters. When done right, bacalao fritters are ethereal, fluffy, and irresistible (the best version I’ve ever had was at Ganbara, San Sebastian, Spain). I dream about them, they’re that good.
While Bacalhau à Brás is a bit more labor-intensive to make, this salad is easy to prepare. Regardless of the final preparation, you must first soak the salt cod (24 to 48 hours) to tame the salinity, changing the water several times during that period. Thereafter, I poached the cod, flaked it, and then you’re good to go.
This salad is good anytime of year, whether it’s part of your Christmas Feast of the Seven Fishes Celebration or weeknight routine. Apreciar.
Cheers and Happy Holidays.
The hot sauce I had in Portugal was piri piri chiles infused in Brandy (for several months).
Piri piri chiles (50,000-175,000 scovilles) are very hot. If you want to make a batch of this hot sauce, you could always substitute with more readily available red Thai (bird’s eye) chiles (which has a similar level of heat as piri piri chiles).
Salt Cod, Chickpea, and Egg Salad (Salada de Bacalhau com Grão)
1/2 pound salt cod
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, more or less to taste
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 small onion (1/2 cup), finely chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon parsley, plus extra for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
*dehydrated olive crumbs (optional); recipe here
piri piri hot sauce (optional)
Prepping the salt cod: Rinse the salt cod and place it in a large bowl. Add cold water to cover. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours (depending on the thickness of your salt cod), changing the water several times during that period.
Drain the fish and transfer to a large pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the fish flakes easily, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. When cool enough to handle, flake the fish (I like larger chunks), be certain to remove the skin and any bones.
For the dressing: Heat the olive oil and garlic over low heat until the garlic is soft. Remove from the heat, let cool. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Mix the flaked salt cod, chickpeas, onion, and parsley. Add the dressing and stir to combine. Taste and season accordingly. Top with the egg wedges. Sprinkle with more parsley and olive crumbs.
Serve with hot sauce.
*You can add thinly sliced black olives instead of the dehydrated olive crumbs.