Salt cod is dried and salted and needs to be soaked before use. It’s popular in Mediterranean cooking, particularly in Spain (it’s known there as bacalao), where it’s incorporated into many different meals. One of the most popular involves deep-frying it in croquettes, similar to this beignet dish we cook at the Boundary. It works because the salty beignets provide a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the scallops and the acidity and freshness of the blood orange.
At the Boundary we salt our own cod. It’s very easy to do so I’ve included the method here – you simply need to leave it a couple of weeks before it’s ready. You can also buy ready-prepared salt cod. Look online for sustainably sourced varieties, or ask your fishmonger if he or she can source it for you.
If you’re preparing your own salt cod, sprinkle the salt over the flesh side evenly. Leave it to marinate for 24 hours, then wash off the salt and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
The following day, wrap the cod in muslin and leave in the fridge for 8–10 days before using.
Rehydrate your salt cod by soaking it in water for 24 hours, changing the water regularly then rinsing it several times under running water. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/fan 170ºC/Gas Mark 5.
Place the salt cod in a saucepan with the milk, bring to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer for 7–10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Drain the cod and flake the flesh into a bowl, discarding any skin and bones.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15–18 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes and leave to steam-dry to remove as much moisture as possible. Mash the potatoes using a ricer or potato masher until they are as smooth as possible.
Add the warm potato to the bowl of poached fish and stir in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon zest and some black pepper. Mix well, then form the mixture into small balls (you should get roughly 12, and if you want to be precise they should weight about 16g each). Place the beaten egg in a small, shallow dish, the flour in another and the breadcrumbs in a third. Roll each beignet in the flour, then in the egg wash, then in the breadcrumbs. Set aside until ready to cook and serve.
Place the fennel in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil, then set aside.
Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a large, deep pan or deep-fat fryer. When it is hot (180°C), deep-fry the beignets for 1 minute or until golden – you can do this in batches if necessary. Drain on kitchen paper, then cover with foil and place in the oven to keep warm while you finish the scallops.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat, then fry the scallops for 1 minute on each side, until golden. You can do this in batches if it’s easier.
To serve, place three scallops in the centre of four serving plates, divide the fennel between them, then add the warm beignets, some blood orange segments and a scattering of parsley.
Boundary restaurant serves modern French cuisine. It’s located in Shoreditch, 2-4 Boundary Street, London E2 7DD. Tel +44 (0)20 7729 1051 to book a table.