Today, even though we are in England, we kept up a tradition from Big Man’s family in Andalucia and made Parpuchas. Light, fluffy fritters of salt cod, parsley and garlic. Traditionally served (as we did) with a drizzle or a dunk of Miel de Caña (Molasses). It sounds odd but I promise you, the combination of sweet and salty really does work. If you don’t have access to salt cod (which you’ll have to desalt) this works well with any other firm raw fish.
I will post the recipe below, but if you’d like to read the original post from a couple of years back and to see some of the traditions of Holy Week in Spain, do check out the original.
- 200g (desalted) salt cod, shredded into small flakes
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup of flour (approx)
- 2 large tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
- 1 finely chopped or crushed clove of garlic
- Salt to taste if you are not using salt cod
- Oil for deep frying
Add the milk, bicarbonate, parsley, garlic and fish to the beaten eggs and then gradually add the flour until you have a thick batter. It needs to be about the texture of thick lumpy custard (not that any of you, I am sure, have ever made lumpy custard!).
Heat the oil until a cube of stale bread turns brown quickly when dropped in and then drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil. I used a tablespoon and it gave me rather large parpuchas – I´d recommend using about half a tablespoon full as they will puff up slightly. When they are brown on the bottom (and they will float to the top), flip them over and cook on the other side. They will not be in the oil for long.
Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and sit them on kitchen paper for a few moments and serve hot, drizzled with Miel de Caña (to be typical) but also good with lemon, alioli or tartare sauce. If you make too many, they are still very tasty cold as they retain their texture.
All that remains for me to say before we move into the rest of the Easter weekend is a very Happy and Peaceful Easter, or Happy Passover if that is what you celebrate, or a Happy Few Days with your loved ones. Watch out for those chocolate bunnies…..
Ok, so the photo doesn’t do this dish much justice but I’m an honest Chica and I don’t have photoshop. We also eat ridiculously late so there’s no natural light. But what I show you is a delicious meal which would also be an amazing light vegetarian lunch or supper without the cod.
The risotto is creamy and delicately flavoured and, as a bonus, pretty healthy and low in fat too as it contains no cream or cheese. Granted, coating cod in flour and frying it in olive oil sort of cancels that out, but fish and olive oil are good for us, we all know that, so not only does this taste great it’s good for you too!
Ingredients to serve 2 hungry people (and we’re always hungry)
- 1 large piece of cod cut into about 6 large chunks and lightly coated in seasoned flour
- About 150g risotto rice (I used carnaroli)
- Approx half a litre of hot vegetable stock into which you dissolve about 5 strands of saffron
- One roasted red pepper peeled and finely chopped
- Half an onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves of peeled and crushed garlic
- 1 small courgette cut into fine dice
- 1 large ripe tomato, peeled and finely chopped
- About a dozen mangetout beans, finely shredded
- Olive oil
- Lemon to serve
The risotto is made in the usual way – start by softening the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil, then add the pepper, tomato and courgette and cook until the courgette has softened. Add the rice and make sure it is coated in oil before gradually adding a ladleful of hot stock. Cook until the stock has been absorbed then add the next ladleful. Continue in this way until the rice is just starting to lose its bite.
At this point heat olive oil in a deep frying pan to a depth of about 1cm (you can also either deep fry or use less oil if you prefer). When the oil is very hot, gently lower in the cod pieces and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
While the cod is cooking add the shredded mangetout to the rice and a final ladleful of stock. Taste and season then place the cod on top of the rice. Turn off the heat and leave the rice to rest for a few minutes before serving with wedges of lemon to squeeze over.
If you do an internet search for a typical Spanish soup called Sopa de Bacalao, you’ll find many versions of a firm favourite. I don’t lay claim to my version being authentic, especially as it uses a very non Spanish ingredient – Ras El Hanout – but as the spice mix comes from North Africa and there are such very strong connections between Africa and Andalucía, I feel no one will be up in arms.
The ingredient list is short and simple, the preparation too. But the taste, oh the taste, your friends and family will think you’ve spent hours reducing stock to achieve the intensity of flavour.
Ingredients (to serve 2-4 as a main or starter)
- 1 large cod fillet, skinned and cut into bite sized chunks (use either fresh cod or desalted salt cod)
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
- About 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout
- About 1.25l of either fish stock or water (if you use a cube to make your stock, I won’t tell!)
- A little olive oil
Start by sweating the onion and garlic until softened then add the potatoes. Toss them around in the oil until they are all coated in oil then add the Ras El Hanout and mix in. Pour over the stock and cook until the potatoes are almost done.
Add the cod and cook for a minute or two until the fish is cooked. Taste and season if necessary and then add the spinach. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and wait for the spinach to wilt before serving with plenty of fresh lemon to squeeze over.
Lent is a time in Catholic countries of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Believer or not, it also means a few changes to diet in Andalucía with a reduction in meat heavy meals and a focus on vegetables, pulses and fish. A typical dish during this period is Potaje de Semana Santa, Holy Week Stew, which is typically made with chick peas (or a mix of chick peas and giant white beans) and salt cod. I was sure I had previously given you a recipe for this, but alas I have been remiss. Fortunately, Giovanna over at Blue Jellybeans, has done the honours, do check it out!
As we’re still in the UK, and the weather has turned icy again, it was time to reinterpret this classic dish using ingredients available locally to me here. We were pleased with the results and it’s definitely a dish that can be eaten any time of year, not just Lent.
The ingredient list is simple, but the slow cooking turns this into a beautifully flavoured dish.
Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course)
- 2 cups of dried butterbeans
- 1 head of garlic
- A bay leaf
- 1 large fillet of fresh cod (I used smoked but unsmoked would also be good) flaked into chunks
- 2 cups approx. of finely chopped fresh spinach or kale
- A pinch of saffron (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
- 3 cloves (optional)
Start by soaking the beans in water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda overnight. The next day drain them, cover well with water, add all the ingredients except the fish and spinach and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for a couple of hours (or cook in a low heat in the oven for about 4 hous as I do) until the beans are really tender. Just before serving remove the garlic, bay leaf and cloves (if using), add the cod and spinach and cook on a medium heat. Stir a little to break up some of the beans and thicken the soup. Season with salt to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.
If you want more Lenten recipes, take a look at Chgo John gorgeous Grilled Salted Cod recipe or my Parpuchas (Salt Cod Fritters) from last year.
PS. I have jsut come across a company that supplies (in the UK) some Spanish ingredients. Here’s the link (they haven’t paid me for this) but have just ordered the ingredients for Fabada Asturiana from them, so am hoping they’ll be good.
In Spain when we want to enjoy cod, we buy it dried and salted, Bacalao. And very good it is too once it has been desalted and cooked with love. Nowadays fresh cod is starting to make its way into the Spanish markets too, but in the UK, fresh is what is available – at a price.
In our temporary adopted home of Bexhill on Sea, we have an amazing fish and chip shop very close to home, and we do indulge ourselves from time to time. However, fried food like this is a rare treat and we bought some delicious fresh cod fillets to enjoy at home, cooked in a healthier way.
Ingredients (per person)
- One fresh fillet of cod
- One medium potato, peeled and cut into large cubes
- A quarter of a red pepper, cut into large chunks or strips
- A large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks or thick strips
- Half an onion, cut into about 6 pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Approx 6 cherry tomatoes or one or two small tomatoes cut into halves or quarters
- About 6 spears of asparagus cut into 4 pieces
- About 6 green beans cut into 4 pieces
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Do feel free to mix up the vegetables, depending on what you have available. Make sure to cut the root vegetables into chunks approximately the same size as these will start to cook first.
In a large oven tray lined with foil, put the potatoes and carrots, pour over a little oil and salt and mix in, ensuring all the vegetables have a light coating of oil. Bake on medium/high for about 25 minutes then add the rest of the vegetables, add a little more oil and season with salt and pepper. When the vegetables start to turn brown at the edges and the potatoes and carrots are soft enough to insert the point of a knife, reduce the heat to medium.
Place the cod fillets on top of the vegetables (this would also work well with any other firm fish such as salmon) season and cover with foil. Cook for about 15 minutes more. Check that the fish is cooked through by inserting a fork gently into the fish and looking to see that the fish is no longer transparent in the centre.
Serve the cod on top of the vegetables with a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
And now for a gratuitous shot of the work in progress. The kitchen´s still not looking like a kitchen, but it´s taking shape…at least it no longer has a bathroom in it!