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Salt Cod And Tuna Salad

Xato, pronounced 'chay-toh', was originally a fishermen's salad. Salt cod, usually from Norway, was a staple in Catholic Europe, in the Caribbean and parts of America - interestingly all regions of the world with a plentiful supply of their own fish. It is widely available in Spanish and Italian delis, Oriental and Caribbean markets, and must be soaked before use to soften it and remove the salt.

ingredients

(see note page 20)
200 g skinless, boneless salt cod (bacalao), or homemade salt cod
1 escarole lettuce or curly endive,
leaves separated and kept in
cold water for 30 minutes until crisp
3 slightly green tomatoes, cored and cut into pieces
8 anchovy fillets
225 g jar of good-quality tuna in olive oil
12 green olives
12 black olives
Xato sauce
2 dried chillies, about 5 cm long, such as Spanish guindillas
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 blanched almonds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan and chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
125 ml extra virgin olive oil

method

1. To prepare the salt cod, soak it in cold water for 12 - 24 hours, changing the water every 4-5 hours. This softens the flesh and reduces the salt. Just before you are ready to use it, drain well.

2. To make the sauce, soak the chillies in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain, deseed and chop coarsely. Put the chillies, vinegar, salt, almonds and garlic in a blender and pulse to a puree. With the motor running, gradually add the oil. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Shred the soaked salt cod with your fingers and add to the sauce. Chill for about 30 minutes, so the fish 'cooks' a little in the acidity of the dressing.

4. Drain the lettuce and pat dry. Add to the sauce and toss gently. Put the tomatoes, anchovies and tuna on top of the lettuce, add the olives and toss just before serving.

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