Salt cod makes several appearances in Jeff Koehler's new cookbook, Spain. Some recipes, like his brandade on toast or salt cod tortilla, blend the fish into a larger dish, using it for seasoning rather than a centerpiece. Others offer a large piece of salt cod on a plate, enhanced with just a bit of olive oil—a meal exclusively for bacalao lovers. I wanted to strike a balance between the two, and chose to prepare a simple salad of salt cod, orange, and black olives. The fish is soaked for two days to release much of the salt before it's lightly seared and flaked into thin, bite-sized pieces. Segments of oranges, wedges of egg, slices of olives, and a drizzle of bold olive oil each complement the fish in their own way for a unique, unforgettable dish.
Why I picked this recipe: I've only ever had salt cod whipped into a brandade or fried into fritters, so I wanted to try a dish that brings the fish more to the forefront.
What worked: Out of all the recipes tested this week, this salad was by far the easiest and the most distinctive. Take a bite with a sliver of each ingredient on the fork for a balance between the richness of the egg and olives, sweet brightness of the orange, and salty brininess in the fish.
What didn't: My salt cod was very thick, so it took a few extra minutes to turn flaky.
Suggested tweaks: The picture seems to show fennel in the salad and not a thinly sliced scallion. I made my salad as written in the recipe, but I'm sure fennel would taste lovely in here as well. Koehler suggests using the most strongly flavored olive oil you can find, like a Spanish blend that uses Picual olives. I had on hand an olio nuovo pressed from a peppery blend of Tuscan olives that worked well.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.