Best Kitchen Basics
Petrina Tinslay

The regional cooking of France had me at bonjour. It is the beauty and elegance of cooking that was founded on pragmatism – the idea of prolonging the bounty of each particular season if there was surplus, and, if not, the profound act of staying alive.

This recipe is based on brandade de morue (whipped salt cod) and the many iterations that exist in southern France.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg white-fleshed fish fillet, (such as cod, snapper, blue eye trevalla)
100g coarse sea salt
1 litre milk
6 garlic cloves, crushed, plus an extra cut garlic clove to serve
4 fresh bay leaves
1 small bunch thyme
300g waxy potatoes, such as desiree or dutch cream
200ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
chargrilled sourdough bread, to serve


  1. Skin the fish and rub it all over using all the salt. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  2. Remove the fish from the refrigerator, unwrap it and rinse off the excess salt under cold running water.
  3. Put the fish in a small saucepan over medium–low heat, cover with milk, add the crushed garlic, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes until the fish starts to flake. Remove the fish, strain and reserve the milk and garlic.
  4. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium–high heat then reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer until tender. Drain the potatoes and peel them while they are still hot.
  5. Flake the fish into a heavy-based saucepan and place over low heat.
  6. Push the potatoes and garlic through a potato ricer, or sieve, straight into the pan with the fish. Beat the fish and potatoes together with a wooden spoon, while alternately adding the reserved milk and olive oil. Keep beating and adding the milk and olive oil until all the olive oil is used and a similar amount of milk. It should have the texture of mashed potato. Season with a good grinding of black pepper.
  7. Serve a bowl of brandade with chargrilled sourdough bread rubbed with fresh garlic and olive oil.


  • Imported salt cod can be purchased, but I prefer to use local fish for a more delicate flavour and texture.
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