This French dish is usually made with salt cod, but sablefish (also sold as black cod) is a much more environmentally sustainable choice. You often can find smoked sablefish in Jewish delis, and many upscale grocery stores carry it as well. Because the sablefish is smoked and then cooked again, its final texture ends up resembling that of reconstituted salt cod.–Barton Seaver
LC What We Really Mean By ‘Whitefish’ Note
While it’s true that sablefish is an inspired ingredient in this brandade, bringing a rich smokiness to the garlicky potato purée, just about any salted or smoked fish with a whitish cast will work. We’ve also taken this recipe for a whirl with the traditional salt cod as well as with smoked herring–though not together–and not had any regrets. None at all. Set it out to enjoy at breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, or as a midnight snack.
Smoked Whitefish Brandade
- 4 ounces smoked sablefish or black cod (or reconstituted salt cod)
- 1/2 pound russet potato peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic peeled
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for toasting and drizzling
- 1 baguette sliced 1 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as chives and tarragon (optional)
- Combine the fish, potato, and garlic in a small saucepan and add just enough water to barely cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potato is soft and beginning to fall apart, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Transfer the potato, fish, and garlic to a medium bowl and begin to mash it with a whisk. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to incorporate it, then whisk in about 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. The purée should have the consistency of peanut butter. (The brandade will keep for several days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.)
- Brush the bread slices with a little oil and toast under the broiler or in a toaster oven until golden brown. Serve the brandade in a bowl, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs, if desired. Pass the toasted bread alongside.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This smoked fish appetizer is great! I couldn’t find sable, so I used a neighbor’s smoked herring I was gifted with, and it was wonderful. The smoky fish is mellowed by the smooth potato and jazzed up a bit with the garlic. Don’t be afraid of all that garlic. It mellows greatly after being cooked. I added a sprinkling of minced lemon basil on a few of these and minced chives on others; both tasted lovely, but it’s just fine without herbs, too. I did need to add a bit of salt to season it properly. I was delighted to read that it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, but alas, I’ll have to at least triple the recipe to test that.
Very easy and very delicious, this brandade is an excellent way to use the smoked sable you might otherwise layer on a bagel with a bit of cream cheese. It’s a very low-maintenance recipe and would be ideal as a spread for hors d’oeuvres, or smeared on toast as an accompaniment to scrambled eggs. The recipe worked as written, and I would definitely make it again!
This recipe was effortless and delicious. Perfect for brunch or a light lunch along side a salad. I’m lucky enough to have many purveyors where I can find smoked sable and it adds exactly what you’d expect — a rich, smoky flavor. If your options are limited to reconstituted baccala (salt cod), I would substitute one tablespoon of bacon renderings for one tablespoon of the incorporated olive oil.
Originally published October 05, 2011