Bilbao Cod Brandade Tortes with Soft-Cooked Quail Eggs

Credit: Didier Loire
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Step 1: Cod

Boil 3 quarts of water, and add 10 1/2 ounces (300 g) of coarse gray sea salt. Once the salt has completely dissolved, remove the brine from the heat and cool immediately.

Eliminate the excess salt from the fish. Plunge it into the brine and let it soak for 2 days, keeping it in a cool place. The purpose of this procedure is to allow the sections of salt cod to swell, thereby speeding up the desalting process.

Remove the fish from the brine and place into a recipient of cold water with a metal rack so that the fish doesn’t touch the bottom. Make sure that the salt cod is placed with the skin facing up so that the salt is eliminated more easily. Desalt for 36 hours, changing the water every 3 to 4 hours.

This recipe is recommended for salt cod of prime quality. However if an inferior quality is used, simply desalt in cold running water for 36 hours.

Step 2: Brandade

Peel the potatoes and cut into even, 1/10 inch (3 mm), slices. Add the crushed, unpeeled garlic and the thyme. Cover with 2 cups of milk and the whipping cream. Place on the range, bring to a boil, and simmer over a low heat on the edge of the range, making sure that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Put the salt cod in a pot, cover with the rest of the cold milk, and add the star anise. Bring to a boil, and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, letting it simmer slightly.

Once the salt cod is cooked, take it out of the cooking liquid and remove the skin.

Remove the garlic and thyme from the potato cooking liquid. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, and whisk with their cooked juices until smooth..

Add the flaked salt cod and continue stirring with a wooden spatula until the mixture is fairly smooth with a few bits of fish. Emulsify the brandade lightly with some extra-virgin olive oil, add the Espelette pepper, and season to taste.

This recipe was originally published in "Culinary Encyclopedia by Alain Ducasse" (Éditions Alain Ducasse). See all credits

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