FRANCE | MONACO
The air-dried salted cod from the Lofoten Islands was revered as much as the local fish that went into Bouillabaisse, and its origins in the villages between Nice and Monaco are still shrouded in mystery.
Made with the whole stockfish, a bucketful of tomatoes and almost as many potatoes with a bouquet garni, garlic, onions, olive oil and black olives, it was a slow-cooked stew with countless variations on the basic recipe.
Also known as E’stocafi, Estofinado and Stoficado, this dish goes through a transformation when the cod is poached in a court-bouillon made with the garlic-herb-onion-sweet pepper-tomato mix, mashed with potatoes, butter, cream, eggs, garlic, parsley and hot walnut oil.
Some chefs now make both the stew and the mash with fresh cod, and make a baccalà-like dish by poaching the cod and adding the perfectly cooked flakes to mashed potatoes, olive oil and parsley, finishing with a garnish of grated parmigiano and anchovy fillets.
This is the original.
1 kg tomatoes 600 g potatoes, peeled, quartered 600 g stockfish 500 g red peppers, chopped 400 g onions, chopped 150 ml white wine 100 g black olives 100 g garlic, crushed 75 ml olive oil Brandy, splash 3 bay leaves 6 black peppercorns Bouquet garni (fennel, marjoram, savory, thyme) 1 tsp salt Pepper, pinch
Soak stockfish in cold water for 72 hours, changing the water twice a day. Skin and remove everything except the firm flesh, place bits in a saucepan with sufficient water to cover. Add a bay leaf, some of the chopped onions and two cloves of garlic. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Strain and set liquid aside.
Cut cod into small pieces. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium setting. Sauté the fish gently, adding a splash of brandy and a glass of white wine. Evaporate the alcohol and remove the fish to a bowl. Deglaze the pan with the tomatoes, add the garlic, bouquet garni, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and pepper.
Reduce on a high heat for 15 minutes, then add the fish. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half, adding the fish stock to loosen when the stew becomes thick. In a separate saucepan blanch the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add olives, potatoes, peppers and remaining onions.
Serve in soup bowls. Pureed anchovies with basil and garlic, and chopped parsley are traditional accompaniments.
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