Lent in Catalunya is associated with dried and salted cod and is often represented by an old woman with seven legs (symbolising the seven weeks) with a cod in hand. As meat was historically forbidden by the church throughout Lent, cod became the typical dish for this period.
The Catalan expression ‘tallar el bacallà’ (cut the cod) has its origins in ancient monasteries. During Lent, the prior was in charge of cutting the portions and deciding the sizes. So when someone has authority or power of decision, they are said to ‘cut the cod’.
- Preparation time: 1 hour
- Serves: 4
For the samfaina sauce:
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 2 medium onions
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 aubergines
- 1 courgette
- Ground pepper
For the cod:
- 4 cod fillets
- Oil and salt
- Flour the cod fillets.
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the cod for two minutes on each side. Set cod aside and soak up any excess oil with kitchen paper.
- Cut the aubergine into cubes and put them in the same pan used to fry the cod. Let it cook for five minutes and set aside.
- Next, fry the onions and leave them to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the peppers and courgettes, cut into small cubes. Keep on the heat for about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the grated tomatoes and season to taste. Cover the pan and let it cook for five minutes.
- Add the aubergine, stir the mixture and keep on the heat for five more minutes.
- Add the cod fillets and cover. Turn off the heat after two minutes.
To desalinate a cod fillet, first clean it under running water to remove the outermost layer of salt. Place in a recipient filled with enough water so the cod is completely covered. Depending on the thickness of the cod, leave it in the refrigerator for one to three days and change the water every 12 hours.
To complete the dish, serve with a boiled egg cut into halves.
Visit www.ambdosfogons.com for more traditional Catalan recipes by Toni Rocamora.