One of Portugal’s best known dishes, brandade is a simple purée of salt cod, garlic and olive oil, and is a great basis for a tasty starter.
Put the milk into a pan big enough to accommodate the fish. Add the garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer. Add the fish, and cook gently until it just flakes. Lift out and leave to cool slightly. Add the sliced potato to the milk and simmer until soft.
When the fish is just cool enough to handle, go through it with your fingers, removing the skin and any bones. Shred it between your fingers.
Drain the cooked potato, reserving the milk, and mash thoroughly.
Either purée the salt cod, garlic, olive oil and about 50ml of the milk in a food processor, or pound in a pestle and mortar (those who advocate doing it the hard way swear the result is fluffier when the fibres are broken down by hand). Add the resulting purée to the mashed potato and combine. Add a little more milk if it seems too stiff.
Serve as a starter with some good sourdough bread or toast, or try it with a poached egg on top for breakfast.
By Louise Bell