Hunt the fall blues with dried cod

Cod is not inherently a sexy fish.

Cod have nothing against salmon and they can’t really compete with tuna or snapper. At its freshest, cod can be a great base for some iconic dishes, including fish and chips, fish chowder, and of course, Cod Brandade (the incomparable cod and whipped potato spread). in France). But in and of itself, it’s pretty straightforward, and you would never think that fierce wars were fought over it in the middle of the last century and empires arose and fell under the force of the cod trade.

I’m trying to see cod in a whole new light, and its age-old role as a financial superpower makes it slightly more interesting. But that doesn’t detract from its rather bland taste.

But I have to kiss the cod; my doctor advised me to eat less red meat and get fish – and exercise, including weight training – more important aspects of what she calls with aspiration my “regular diet of health and well-being -to be”. I’m sure she’s right: in my job, high cholesterol is a common occupational risk.

One successful tactic was to fall back on dried fish, so I had a lot of fun experimenting with different flavors and different fish. Although salted salmon is a staple in our house, I had never tried brining cod before. And that was my mistake, because cod becomes something really amazing when you treat it with some herbs, roots, salt and sugar. What a difference! It’s as if the cod are suddenly coming out of a complete metamorphosis. The result is silky, salty, with just a hint of sweetness, with a deeply authentic “fish” flavor.

Drying fish offers an impressive effort-reward ratio, which is something to keep in mind as we carefully flex our flabby and deformed entertaining muscles: for about 7 minutes of working time and 72 hours of hands-free time, you get an elegant dish that you can serve as a bombshell appetizer or alongside something as reduced as buttered new potatoes with a few sprigs of dill. You will be asked where you keep your smoker.

There are a few basic rules to remember when processing fish. Always get the freshest fish possible – which is pretty universal advice, actually; I don’t know of any recipe that says, “It doesn’t matter how good the fish you get. So try to get your fish as fresh as possible from a reliable fishmonger. Add a little alcohol to your cure: this will deepen the flavors and promote the process. For best results, weigh the fish down with something: I put a baking sheet on top of the fish, then a few large boxes of something or, better yet, two dumbbells.

Be very gentle when rinsing off the remedy – ideally something a little more forceful than a net – and gently pat the fish dry with a paper towel when you’re done.

The crostini below are a lovely way to enjoy dried cod: the dark and dense Borodinsky bread from Russia with its notes of coriander and molasses is a perfect foil for the tangy flavors of cilantro and horseradish in the cure. These crostini are the perfect icebreaker at a cocktail party, an elegant accompaniment to soup or as a light appetizer before a big meal.

And as soon as my next batch is done hardening, I’ll be using these dumbbells like nature – and my doctor – intended for me!


For the dried cod

  • 1 lb (500 grams) cod fillet
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) aquavit or vodka
  • ⅔ cup (150 mL) fresh cilantro
  • ⅔ cup (150 mL) fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar

For the crostini

  • 1 loaf of Borodinsky bread (or any other black bread)
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch of coriander


Note: Cod needs to harden for 72 hours, so plan accordingly.

  • Place the cod skin side down on a large piece of plastic wrap.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and mix until the mixture is a coarse moist paste.
  • Spread the curing mixture over the surface of the fish, exerting light pressure to rub it into the flesh of the fish.
  • Wrap the fish tightly in more plastic wrap, then place it on a baking sheet, hard side down, and weigh it. Refrigerate for 72 hours.
  • Rinse the fish under a light steam of cold water and dry it. Thinly slice on the diagonal to serve.

To make the crostini

  • Cut the bread into small squares and remove the crusts. Toast or toast the bread.
  • Spread a thin layer of sour cream on each crostino, then stack it with thin slices of dried cod and garnish with cilantro and a thin slice of lime.
  • Other garnish ideas: capers, candied onions, candied pickles, cocktail onions, chopped chives.
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About John Crowder

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