Bread crumbs tossed in olive oil and baked to a crisp give a pleasant crunch to this classic Mediterranean dish which traditionally features salted cod and potatoes in a mousse-like entrée.
Full disclosure. Here in Ulaanbaatar, we are about as geographically removed from the nearest walleye as could be possible. In fact, as the crow flies we’re over 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) from the Walleye Capital of the World, Lake Erie, in my former stomping grounds of western Pennsylvania. So I used cod in this classic brandade-inspired dish. In fact, this dish originated in regions around the Mediterranean Sea such as Italy and France where at certain times of the year the only fish readily available was preserved salted cod. The steps in preparing this dish do a nice job of masking the strong flavor of preserved fish, something you won’t have to worry about if you have access to fresh walleye, rockfish, striped bass, crappie or similar fish.
And it’s delicious – the kind of fish dish even people not particularly crazy about fish enjoy. Experiment with seasonings to give it some heat, herbiness or lemon flavors. Brandade can be baked in an oven-safe frying pan, a casserole dish, or, perhaps best of all, in individual ramekins such as the one we used in the above photo. Dress it up with a little chopped parsley and a dollop of lumpfish roe, pair with a Riesling, and dinner is served.
Brandade of Walleye (or virtually any white-meated fish)
Ingredients (serves two)
- 1/2 pound of skinless walleye fillet, rinsed and patted dry
- 1/2 pound of potatoes, boiled till they’re soft, and sliced into cubes (Skin removed or not, chef’s choice. We prefer skin on.)
- 1 tin (2 oz/60 g) anchovies, chopped fine. Or use anchovy paste.
- 1 cup milk (approximately)
- 1 tsp Penzeys Chesapeake Bay Seafood Seasoning (or use 1 tsp dry tarragon and a dash of sea salt)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 oz shallots, minced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp smoked chipotle powder (or use espelette pepper or whatever you prefer)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp white truffle oil (optional)
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- chopped parsley
- lumpfish or salmon roe (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add fillet, enough milk to cover, and Penzeys Chesapeake Bay Seafood Seasoning or tarragon and salt. Poach just until fillet easily comes apart with a fork. Remove fillet and use a fork to go through fish to make sure there is no skin or bones remaining.
- Using a food processor or stick blender, briefly pulse the fish. Don’t over process. Meat should look somewhat fibrous. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, smoked chipotle powder and paprika and cook just till garlic and shallots turn translucent and become aromatic. Scrape mixture into bowl with fish.
- Use a food processor or stick blender attachment to purée the potatoes. Don’t over process or potatoes will become sticky.
- Add puréed potatoes to fish. Add anchovies, heavy cream (or sour cream thinned with milk), lemon juice and truffle oil. Mix everything together thoroughly. Use a food processor or stick blender to again briefly process. You want a consistency that is somewhat mousse-like. Give it a taste and add salt and seasonings as desired.
- Use a spatula to place mixture in ramekins, casserole dish or oven-safe frying pan. Mixture will rise slightly during baking.
- Toss bread crumbs in extra-virgin olive oil. Use just enough oil to allow the crumbs to soak it up without becoming overly saturated. Spoon onto top of potato and fish mixture.
- Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Bread crumbs will be golden brown and crisp when done.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and fish roe. Serve hot.