The great thing about growing your own broad beans, and indeed any vegetable, is that you decide when they are ready to pick, and are not dependent on the whim of a commercial grower.
The wonderful Hispanophile and writer, Michael Jacobs, telephoned in April when the new broad beans were in season in Spain to tell us what he had just been eating at a gastronomic society in the province of Jaén. We loved the beauty and simplicity of the dish, and the next day it was on the menu. It is best made with the more expensive, thick salt cod loin, which is less cured, softer and therefore easier to slice. The length of time you soak the salt cod depends on its saltiness; taste a little piece to check if it is palatable.
200g podded young broad beans, no larger than a thumbnail
200g salt cod, soaked for 24–36 hours in 3 or 4 changes of abundant cold water
20–30 tiny mint leaves, or shredded mint leaves if larger
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons (a good squeeze) lemon juice
Blanch the broad beans for 2-4 minutes in unsalted boiling water. Drain and refresh in cold water, then peel off the outer skin, leaving the smallest ones with the skin on.
Drain the salt cod, place it skin-down on a board and use tweezers or fine pliers to remove any small bones. To slice, use a razor-sharp non serrated knife, keep the blade wet, and support the flesh of the fish with the palm of your hand as you cut wafer-thin slices from it. Don’t worry if the slices tear – thinner and slightly ragged is better than unbroken but thick.
Arrange the slices flat, in a single layer, on 4 cool plates. Scatter with the broad beans, mint and lemon zest. Stir together the oil and lemon juice to make a dressing, season with black pepper and spoon it over the fish. You will probably not need to add any salt.