Mexican-style salted cod fish
Almost any dried salted fish will work nicely here. The Norwegian cod fish is the finest and it can be found in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese groceries.
- 1 kg salted dried cod fish
- 400 ml extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can get)
- 2 large white onions, sliced
- 7 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 kg ripe tomatoes (blanched, peeled and chopped)
- 7 sprigs thyme
- 7 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
- 1 cup green olives pitted sliced
- ½ cup capers
- 7 pickled jalapeño chillies , deseeded and cut into strips (or, better, pickled hot banana peppers)
- 1/2 cup almonds quartered and lightly toasted
- 800g baby new potatoes halved and boiled (they have to be firm)
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley finely chopped (leaves only)
Desalt the fish: First, under running cold tap water with a soft brush, gently remove the outer salt clusters. Then cover the fish with cold water and let it soak for 24 hours in the fridge changing the water periodically at least three times. Different brands and varieties of salt fish differ in degrees of saltiness so the best is to taste a small piece after the soaking process; you want the fish lightly salty.
Blanch the fish: Bring water to a boil in a pot large enough to contain the fish. Add the fish and simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove promptly from the water and let it cool down.
Crumble the fish into small chunks: Do it carefully with your fingers to catch and remove any bone. Reserve.
For the sauce:
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven bring the oil to a medium-high heat, add the onions first, then the garlic and sauté just until the onions are translucid. Add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme and bay leaves, cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the fish, stir gently just enough to mix all thoroughly and let it simmer on a medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add the olives, capers and chillies and keep simmering for 10 minutes. Finally add the almonds, the potatoes and the parsley, stir very gently and let it simmer for 5 more minutes, just enough to finish cooking the potatoes.
Taste it. It is very unlikely but it may need a pinch of salt. The right consistency is like a thick rich putanesca. On Christmas Eve it is usually served with a nice white pilaf-like rice and it is much better when reheated a day after and eaten inside a good piece of bread.
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