Vraie ou fausse? Brandade de morue sur lit de courgettes marinées

 I have been wanting to eat this for a long time, but salt cod is not always easy to find and not all the stores carry it. Fortunately Berkeley Bowl does…unfortunately it’s not of a great quality. I am used of thick and very dry salt cod pieces sold in markets in France or Italy. The one I have found here, is more like fresh fish in which salt has been added and is found in the refrigerated section of some supermarkets. I have to figure out why they store in the refrigerator, since salt is a natural preservative.

Anyway, Brandade de morue, is a fish specialty from the city of Nîmes, in the Gard region, in the South of France…some other versions are seen in Pays Basque and Charente regions as well. It seems like the most authentic brandade does not have potatoes in it, just salt cod, olive oil, milk and garlic. Then the ingredients should be crushed using a mortar. Nowadays, you see a lot of recipes with potatoes in it, and most people do use potatoes, or cream or parsley. Morue parmentière is another derivative and does contain potatoes and is gratinée in the oven (but NEVER EVER with cheese on top, that would be a sacrilège!).

This version has potatoes and was not gratinée in the oven. I wanted to display it on top of zucchini ribbons and putting it in the oven would have been a problem for this presentation. You could place it in some clay ramequins and brown it in the oven and serve it in the dish. I don’t like to serve it with toasted bread since there are potatoes in it, so that would be too much starch.

For the milk quantity, I am afraid I did not measure it. I decided to use my “bon jugement” (good judgment) and went with what I thought would be enough, so you need to obtain a nice smooth texture, but not too thick. Usually, since cod is salted, you might not need to add any, but taste first.

Ingredients for 4

For the brandade

  • 2 lbs (or 900 g) salt cod
  • 0.9 lb (or 400 g) potatoes
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • 1 thyme leaf
  • milk (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • pepper

For the zucchini ribbons

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 tbs Meyer lemon oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Fleur de sel
  • Pepper


For the brandade

Soak cod in cold water for about 24 hours, changing water approximately 3 to 4 times. Simmer cod in water with laurel and thyme for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Drain, let cool and using your finger start taking the fish apart in small pieces. In the meantime, peel potatoes and boil in water for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Drain and crush using a potato masher.

Mix cod and potatoes in a pot and using a wooden spoon or whip stir vigorously, add garlic, milk and olive oil gradually, still stirring, the mixture needs to be smooth.

For the zucchini

Using a potato peeler, make ribbons. Combine all other ingredients together except for the fleur de sel and marinate for about 20 minutes or more. When ready to serve, add fleur de sel.

Place a good amount of zucchini in the middle of a plate and using a ring, mount the brandade on top. Decorate with red pepper corn and basil.