Salt-cod croquettes with aioli and rocket

Serves 6

For the salt cod

600g/21oz fillet salt cod
2 litres/31/2 pints milk
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
Rind of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 large potato, preferably Desiree, boiled and gently mashed
1/4 finely diced small red onion
1/2 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
Plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
Fresh breadcrumbs, preferably sourdough
Enough vegetable oil to halfway fill a pan

For the aioli

The yolks of 3 eggs
Juice of one lemon
250ml/8fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by preparing the cod. After curing, rinse off in cold running water to wash off the excess salt. Place in a large saucepan, covering with milk. Add the bay leaves, whole peppercorns and lemon rind. Gently bring almost to the boil and let it simmer until the cod is cooked through (roughly 20 minutes).

Strain the fish out of the milk, place in a bowl and gently pound with a pestle, making sure there are no bones or any skin. Season with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt if necessary.

Next, make the aioli. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with a pinch of salt, add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Continue to whisk while adding the oil slowly, drop by drop to begin with. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream. When all the oil has been added, add the crushed garlic, season and set aside.

To make the croquettes, combine the poached cod, potato, onion and parsley, seasoning with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust if necessary. Mould into small long shapes and coat first in flour, then the beaten egg and finally breadcrumbs. (To make these, tear up bread into small pieces and slowly add to a food blender while pulsing until finely ground.) Leave in the fridge until ready to fry.

When ready, carefully fill a heavy-based saucepan halfway with vegetable oil, and gently warm. (Alternatively use a deep fryer set to 180C.) Fry the croquettes in the oil until golden-brown. Drain well and serve with the aioli and a salad of young peppery rocket lightly dressed with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.

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