Cook time: Serves 6
Ingredients: 12 ounces - skinless barramundi, thawed,
2 or 3 - small wood chips, preferably oak or alder,
Salt and pepper,
1 - large or 2 small russet potatoes,
1 cup - half and half,
3 - garlic cloves, peeled and crushed,
2 - sprigs of fresh thyme,
1 - medium bay leaf,
3/4 cup - extra virgin olive oil,
Squeeze of lemon juice,
2 tablespoons - chopped flat leaf parsley,
Crusty bread, like ciabatta, for serving,
Looking for a creative way to coax a non-fish eater into sustainable seafood? Brandade might just do the trick. This recipe can be prepared up to two days ahead of time, stored well wrapped in the refrigerator, and then baked when ready to serve. Recipe, food styling and photography by Linda Schneider.
Step 1To smoke the barramundi: break apart the wood chips into small pieces, then place them in a bowl of water to soak for about five minutes.
Step 2Line the bottom of a heavy lidded pot, like a Dutch oven, with a piece of aluminum foil. Drain the wood chips and scatter them over the foil, then loosely cover with another piece of aluminum foil. Place a small wire rack or steamer basket into the pot.
Step 3Place the barramundi fillets close together on another piece of aluminum foil and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. Lift up the foil from both sides and place it on top of the wire rack, then place the lid on the pot. Cover the top of the pot with two layers of aluminum foil and scrunch tightly to seal the lid and prevent the smoke from escaping.
Step 4Set the pot over high heat for five minutes so that the wood chips will begin to smoke. Turn the heat down to low for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and allow the pot to sit untouched for another 10. Unwrap the pot, remove the lid, and transfer the fish to a plate to cool to room temperature. If you prefer not to smoke the fish, simply steam it until cooked through, then cool and continue following the recipe.
Step 5While the fish is smoking, prepare the infused half and half and whipped potatoes. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the half and half, crushed garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and a few cracks from the fresh black pepper. When it begins to simmer, cover with a lid and set aside to steep while you cook the potatoes.
Step 6Peel the potatoes and cut into rough 1” cubes. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with at least 4” of cold water, then add a hefty pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then crack the lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the potatoes until they can be easily pierced by a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add olive oil, then add the fish and flake into small pieces.
Step 7Fish the garlic cloves from the half and half and add to the bowl with the fish and potato. Remove the thyme and bay leaf and discard.
Step 8Using an electric mixer on low speed, begin to whip the mixture until the potatoes and mostly broken up. Increase the speed to medium while slowly streaming in the warm half and half; continue whipping until mostly smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir in chopped parsley.
Step 9Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a gratin dish with a bit more olive oil, then transfer the brandade and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with crusty bread.