Inspired by my recent trip to Granada, I decided to make some salmorejo today. Salmorejo is very similar to gazpacho and both are traditional Andalusian dishes, so I saw them on most menus while in Granada. Salmorejo more specifically is a dish that comes from Córdoba, a city I’d love to visit as well, but didn’t manage to get to on this trip – but hopefully my next one to Spain!
Salmorejo is richer and creamier than gazpacho; it’s made mainly from tomatoes and bread and doesn’t have the other vegetables usually found in gazpacho, like peppers and cucumber. Sometimes it’s served as a cold soup but it’s also served as a sauce, and I ate it this way a couple of times while in Granada. I’ve already posted a recipe for salmorejo but I called it ‘Gazpacho Madrid Style‘ because at the time, in March 2011, I didn’t know that what I’d eaten in Madrid had been salmorejo. I’m certain the restaurant told me it was gazpacho, but perhaps that was because I asked them what salmorejo was! Anyway, this little story is testament to the fact that writing the blog has taught me a lot; I am constantly learning more about food. I ate salmorejo as a soup on my last night in Granada, and while not garnished with the traditional chopped Serrano ham and egg, it was one of the most glorious salmorejos I’ve had. So I knew when I got home I’d have to make some.
I thought at first about making soup, but then decided to use it as a sauce for some cod. I ate a lot of fish in Granada and cod twice. I also thought it would be nice to take the traditional salmorejo accompaniment of Serrano ham and crisp it for a garnish.
I was cooking for just myself but the amount of salmorejo would be plenty for perhaps 4 portions and you could also serve it as a soup. I used the recipe from Sam & Sam Clark’s wonderful book, Casa Moro, halving the quantities.
Pan-Roasted Cod with Salmorejo & Crispy Serrano Ham
- 1 cod fillet, preferably with skin on
- a little olive oil
- a knob of butter
- thin slice of Serrano ham
- a handful of petit pois, cooked
- a small handful of finely chopped fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, chives, basil)
- 1 garlic clove
- 500g sweet, ripe tomatoes
- 50g white bread, a day or two old, weighed after crusts removed
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- a pinch of caster sugar
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the salmorejo in advance so it can ideally spend about 2 hours in the fridge before eating. Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of sea salt until you have a smooth paste.
Put the tomatoes and bread (roughly broken into small pieces) into a food processor and blend until smooth. Then strain into a bowl. Try to push as much of the pulp through the strainer as possible.
Return to a clean food processor or use a hand blender. Add the garlic paste and slowly add the olive oil with the blender running. Now add the sherry vinegar, a pinch of sugar and season to taste.
You should have a fairly sloppy consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until ready to cook the fish.
I’d bought a lovely cod fillet from my excellent local fishmongers, Sandys of Twickenham. I seasoned well on both sides.
I poured a little olive oil into a frying pan and once hot, added the cod fillet, skin-side down. Once the skin was nicely browned and crispy and I could see the edges of the cod were turning white, then I added the knob of butter. As it melts, tip the pan slightly and start spooning over some of the fat to cook the top of the fish.
Meanwhile, in another little frying pan, put the Serrano slice(s) into a dry hot pan – no extra oil. I bought a little pack of ham in the supermarket which contained small pieces, so my 1 slice was actually 3 small slices! I was a bit doubtful of the quality but actually it tasted really good – a lovely sweetness with the saltiness.
It will quickly start to curl up. Turn over and once crisp on both sides, turn off the heat. Also cook a handful of petit pois for garnish (one of the cod dishes I had in Granada has peas and broad beans as garnish, which is what gave me this idea). Also finely chop a selection of fresh herbs – I had flat-leaf parsley, chives and basil growing. In Granada I had cod with a garnish of micro-leaf salad, so that’s good instead of the herbs if you can find micro leaves.
Once the cod is cooked through and everything ready, plate up. Smear a generous amount of salmorejo onto a serving plate. Lay the cod, skin-side up, on top of it. Now sprinkle over the peas and herbs. Carefully lay the crisp ham on top.
I was rather impressed by my effort! It looked fabulous. And it tasted fabulous too. The fish was gorgeous, so tasty and moist and flaked apart easily. The salmorejo tasted wonderful too and was such a great accompaniment – a rather fancy fish and tomato sauce, I thought! I liked the crispy, salty ham with the sweet fish. All in all a dish to be really proud of and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially as it brought back happy memories of Granada into my evening.