Salt cod with chickpeas and chanterelles

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Years ago in Spain, in a restaurant not far from Barcelona, I had a dish that I thought was tripe with wild mushrooms. It was so delicious and about halfway through I realised that it was salt cod, tripa de bacalhau in fact, which as you can guess is salted cod's tripe. It can be tricky getting hold of the stuff, though, and even Brindisa, the top Spanish food importers, normally decline my request. Ordinary salt cod is easier and if you buy the salted trimmed loins, it's a lot easier to deal with them than the large dried carcasses that you often see on West Indian food markets.

Another option is to ask your fishmonger to save you the collars and the belly from fish such as cod, halibut, haddock etc, which normally goes into the bin. It's a simple and cheap way to achieve the same effect, as the collars and belly are fatty so you get that delicious texture.

You can salt it down at home using coarse grain sea salt (or even the type of salt you use in dishwashers).

Cover your pieces of cod with the salt and leave for about 48 hours. Rinse in clean, cold water, then soak overnight in plenty of cold water.

500g cod or halibut belly or collar, trimmed of skin and bones
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A good knob of butter
1/2tbsp flour
100ml white wine
300ml fish stock, or half a good-quality stock cube dissolved in that amount of water
250g cooked chickpeas
150-200g chanterelles or another seasonal wild mushroom, cleaned
2tbsp chopped parsley

Gently cook the onion and garlic in the butter for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the flour and mix well, then gradually stir in the wine and stock, stirring well to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes.

Give the cod a final rinse, cut into rough 3cm chunks and add to the sauce with the chickpeas. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes, then check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Add the parsley and chanterelles and simmer for a couple more minutes. If you're using more meaty mushrooms then you may need to slice them and sauté them in a little butter first.

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