This hearty vegetable sauce is Catalonia’s answer to ratatouille. Serve the samfaina with chorizo if preferred over cod and remember to salt the eggplant before cooking so it absorbs the flavours of the tomato.
- 800 g dried salted cod fillets (see Note)
- 1 eggplant, cut into 3 cm pieces
- 100 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 red capsicums, chopped
- 1 green capsicum, chopped
- 400 g can chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp saffron threads
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to soak the cod two days ahead.
Cut cod into 4. Place in a large bowl and cover with water. Set aside for 2 days, changing the water every couple of hours. Drain, then pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
Place eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt. Leave for 1 hour, then rinse and drain well. Pat dry with paper towel.
Heat 60 ml oil (¼ cup) in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes or until softened. Add capsicums, and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add eggplant and cook for 10 minutes or until browned. Stir in tomatoes and saffron. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add cod and cook, turning halfway, for 10 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
Serve salted cod with samfaina.
• There are two kinds of dried salted cod; one is labelled as 'wet-salted' and the other as 'dry-salted'. You'll need the 'wet-salted' variety for this recipe, which is found in the refrigerated section of selected delis and is less hard, salty and sold without the tail attached unlike the 'dry-salted' version.
Photography by John Laurie.
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2011, Issue 3.