"Another Catalan salt cod salad, which has a number of variations. Although it is traditionally done with salt cod, I have also seen it with tuna and/or anchovies, taking it closer to a Caesar salad, albeit with a nut sauce. This is our head chef Leo Rivera’s way of presenting it, which I particularly like, as he chops the spindly frisée (or escarole) lettuce quite finely, making it easy to eat, and dresses it with xató sauce and olives.
Xató is very similar to romesco sauce and there is much debate about how to distinguish the two, depending on the particular recipe you choose. The nuts in the sauce also tend to vary according to what is grown locally throughout the region, so in Tarragona it will usually be made with more, or only, hazelnuts, which grow in abundance there; while in Sitges the sauce will be made using more, or only, almonds. Leo uses half and half, but you can vary the proportion as you like."
- With a very sharp knife, remove the skin and then either slice the cod as thinly as you can or with your fingers break it up into bite-sized pieces.
- Mound the frisée neatly on a serving plate and lay the salt cod slices or chunks over the top. Add the olives and dress with the sauce.
Xató sauce (makes 200g)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.
- Roast the nuts on a tray in the preheated oven for 8 minutes keeping a careful eye on them and turning the tray if necessary to keep the nuts at the edges and the back from getting burnt. Give the tray a gentle shake every now and then. Once the nuts are dark golden in colour, take them out of the oven and keep to one side.
- Turn the oven up to 200°C/gas 6.
- Wrap the garlic clove in foil, place on an oven tray with the tomato and put into the oven. Roast the tomato for about 15 minutes, until its skin is beginning to blacken, and leave the garlic clove in for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove the skins from both, chop the tomato and crush the garlic and keep to one side. Crush the nuts and bread with the salt and pepper, using a blender or a pestle and mortar, then add the parsley and reserved tomato and the garlic and blend or pound further. Slowly add the olive oil a little at a time, blending or pounding well after each addition so that the sauce doesn’t split. Finally, stir in the vinegar.