Brandade or Brandade de Morue is a very popular French appetizer made by pureeing mashed salt cod, with olive oil and garlic to make a smooth white paste. The term Brandade is derived from the Provencal term brandado which means to stir or shake well.
The exact origin of Brandade is not known but cod “Morue” or “Cabillaud” was plentiful off the coast of France. Salt was imported from Southern Europe and it was plentiful. Fresh fish was caught off the shores of France or from the shores of Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. To preserve the fresh fish, the fishermen used to salt the excess fish and then dry it in the sun. By the time, the fish reached the shores of Nimes, the fish was heavily salted and partially dried out. The cooks of Nimes are credited with mashing of the dried cod with milk or cream, garlic and olive oil to create the creamy dip. The dish emerged as the special dish of Roussillon, Languedoc and the Provencal areas of Occitanie in France. Very slowly, the coastal regions of Liguria in Occitanie, Italy and Catalogne, Balearic Islands and Valencia in the Catalan nations of Spain also adapted the dish into their cuisine resulting in different versions of the same olive oil, salt cod and garlic combo. The dip became instantly famous when it was adapted by renowned French cook Durand in his cookbook in 1830. Nowadays, most French households buy the sauce readymade in bottles.
Ingredients and Preparation
Fresh cod or salted cod can be used. If fresh cod is used, it is preserved with salt for up to a week. The salted cod is then soaked in fresh water and milk to remove the excess salt. It is then emulsified with olive oil, milk, and garlic. Lemon juice, nutmeg and white pepper may be used as a flavoring.
The brandade is usually served slightly warm as a dip with toasted bread, potatoes or crackers. In upscale restaurants, the dip is served with black truffles, fresh chicory salad and fresh bread.
In Spain, the dish is referred to as Brandada de bacalao. The preparation method and ingredients are almost the same as the French dish. In Italy, atascaburras is prepared with salt cod, potato and chestnut. In Minorca, Balearic Islands, Spain, artichokes are added to the dip while in Toulon, crushed garlic is the only flavoring that is preferred. In Basque Country, Potato is used but cream and milk are omitted.
- Second French Republic president and famous historian Adolphe Thiers regarded the appetizer a “masterpiece of the human race.”
- The Nîmois author named Alphonse Daudet established the Le Brandade club and even wrote an ode to brandade to be recited during the club's annual tasting gatherings.