We've been blessed to have friends from different parts of the world and generous to share their culture with us. Often, sharing their culture/tradition involves eating.... and the husband and I cannot say no to food! =) A couple months ago, our Italian friends C&A invited us over for a traditional Italian meal; Bagna Cauda which originates from their town. According to C & A, their family always have it over winter and share the meal with family and friends. After I tried this delicious dip/meal, I was totally hooked!!
According to Wikipedia, Bagna Cauda is a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy and is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue. The dip is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter and sometimes cream. Therefore, you must like fish or in this case anchovies to enjoy this dip. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables and even bread. Traditional, the Bagna Cauda is placed in a big pan in the center of the table for communal sharing. Now, it is usually served in individual pots.
C & A was generous to haul 2 (or 3) large cans of anchovies back from Italy during their last trip. It took them several days to clean the salt cured anchovies and prepare some of the vegetables for dipping. We were greeted with a melange of steamed, boiled, and raw vegetables (raw beets, boiled cabbage, boiled potatoes, raw radish, steamed cauliflower, steamed asparagus, raw fennel, steamed carrots, boiled mini onions, etc) C prepared the quick yet delicious anchovy dip in front of us, so I had a first hand look of how it's being made. Super easy, just make sure you have some canned anchovies at home. Since I could not find salt cured anchovies, I used anchovies soaked in oil instead. The result is still as good. It's definitely a good way to load up on a lot of vegetables. Some vegetables was surely an excellent match for the dip, some was just ok... but overall it's a personal preference thing as there's no one vegetable that I dislike after dipping it in the bagna cauda! Here's the recipe!
BAGNA CAUDA RECIPE
- 1 Small (2 Oz) Can Anchovies (in oil), Drained
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 4-5 Cloves Garlic, Grated
- 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
- Dash of Ground Black Pepper, Optional
In a small pot, heat oil over medium heat. Then, add grated garlic and anchovies and let the mixture cook over medium low heat until the anchovies melt. Stir occasionally to help melt the anchovies. Finally, add in heavy cream and let the mixture warm up. Transfer bagna cauda to a small porcelain bowl and add some fresh cracked black pepper. Serve the warm dip with your favorite steamed or raw vegetables. Bread also goes well with this dip.
June's Notes: With the bagna cauda sauce I made, I decided to steam some asparagus till slightly tender and poached and egg. I poured about 2 tbsp of the bagna cause sauce over the asparagus and poached egg platter and loved the combination of the runny yolks and the bagna cauda sauce!
To learn how to poach an egg, check out Alton Brown's tips.