By Chef-Owner at Fleur de Sel, Martin Ruiz Salvador
I grew up in the small fishing village of Blandford, Nova Scotia, eating lots of traditional local foods like herring, eel, mussels, clams and smoked fish.
My father is from Madrid. Nova Scotia and Spain share lots of ingredients—like salt cod—but we generally prepare them differently. What I wanted to do with this dish was to blend them, taking the fresh seafood and produce that Nova Scotia has to offer and also showcasing some of the classical training and Old World techniques that I adore. So, it’s a wonderful dish that mixes both cultures—and it’s also easy to prepare and easy to make ahead of time, so I hope you enjoy it.
– Martin Ruiz Salvador
Salt cod and potato filling:
- 200 g (6 oz) salt cod
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 1 tbsp garlic
- 6 medium beefsteak tomatoes
- ¼ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 60 mL (¼ cup) chopped green bell pepper
- 1 tbsp diced shallot
- 1 tbsp chopped basil
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp Spanish paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Fleur de sel
The day before, place salt cod in a non-reactive container, cover with cold water, and transfer to the refrigerator. Soak the salt cod for 12 hours—changing the water every four hours. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Add salt and simmer until potatoes are tender. Drain, pass through a ricer into a mixing bowl, and set aside. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, add garlic, shallot and salt cod. Sweat until soft, stirring regularly to help break up the fish—about four to five minutes. Add the mixture to the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and mix with a rubber spatula until smooth. Cover and let cool.
To make the gazpacho, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Score the bottom of each tomato with an X, and blanch for 20 seconds (or less if very ripe). Peel the tomatoes from the bottom up, leaving any leaves or vine attached to the top. Core the tomatoes from the bottom up while holding them over a bowl to capture the seeds and juice. Cover tomatoes with plastic wrap and set aside. Transfer their seeds and juices to a blender. Add cucumber, bell pepper, shallot, basil, garlic and paprika, and process until smooth. Taste, correct seasonings, and transfer to the refrigerator.
To finish, use a piping bag or a small spoon to stuff each hollowed tomato with the cooled salt cod mixture. Pool a little gazpacho in each of six chilled flat bowls. Place a stuffed tomato in the centre. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and serve.