Brandade - Faroese style

VIDEO: Mash of salted cod, potatoes and garlic, served with pickled red onions

The Faroese have proud traditions of salting fish. Salted fish was the commodity that transformed the Faroe Islands into a fishery nation in the 1800s. In Faroese, saltfish is called saltfiskur and many find salted fish from the Faroe Islands to be the best in the world.

Salted fish is excellent and healthy food with a great taste. The salt preserves the quality of the fish and locks in the nutrition. Salted fish has soaked in water for a day or two to rehydrate, before it is ready for cooking. This process softens the flesh and draws out the excess salt. What is left is the deliciously rich taste of saltfish.

The Faroese still export salted fish to the Mediterranean countries where it has a central role in the cuisine, in particular cod. This recipe is a Faroese interpretation of the classic French dish Brandade de morue. The addition of pickled red onion gives some acidity to the salty and heavy flavours of the salted fish and potato mash.

  • Author : Gutti Winther
  • Category : Dinner, appetizer
  • Cuisine : French/Nordic
  • Yield : 2 servings or an appetizer for 6
  • 250-300 gr. (a large fillet/piece) of salted cod – you can also use other species of salted fish (ling, tusk or saithe)
  • 8 potatoes
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 50 gr. butter
  • 3 dl whole milk
  • A handful parsley, chopped
  • Lemon juice
  • Two slices white bread
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese for grating (you can use hard cheese such as Manchego, Gruyere or Emmentaler) 5-6 chive stalks, chopped
  • Pickled red onions:
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 dl water
  • 1 dl vinegar
  • Preparation:
  • Soak the salted fish in a bowl of fresh cold water for 1 to 2 days to rehydrate the flesh. The soaking time depends on the size of the fish and the hardness of your local water. There should be approximately 3 times as much water as fish in the bowl. Change the water a couple of times each day. Lightly salted fish does not need to be rehydrated.
  • Skin the fish fillets and remove any bones. Dice the fillets.
  • Boil the potatoes until tender.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, slice the shallot and garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic with the thyme in butter for a couple of minutes until the onion softens. Add the milk and fish and poach for 2-3 minutes.
  • Mash the potatoes in a bowl. Add the poached fish, onions and garlic and enough of the milk to make a soft mash.
  • Add the chopped parsley, the juice of half a lemon and mix it all together into a mash. If your mash is too dry, add more milk.
  • Add a pinch of salt, but taste first, as the level of salt in salted fish varies.
  • Cut the slices of bread into smaller pieces. Coat the pieces of bread in olive oil and grill them on a grill pan or in the oven until crisp.
  • Put the fish and potato mash into ovenproof ramekins or a dish and top with grated cheese. Melt the cheese with a torch or in the oven.
  • Garnish with chopped chives and pickled onions. Serve with the grilled pieces of bread.
  • Pickled red onions:
  • Slice the onions finely – you can use a mandolin grater – and put the slices into a bowl or jar.
  • Bring the water, vinegar and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. When the sugar is dissolved, pour the pickle mixture over the onions.
  • Let it stand for 15 minutes and then the pickled onions are ready. The pickled onions only get better the longer they stand and can be stored for weeks.