The “espencat” or “aspencat” is a typical recipe of the Valencian Community cooked with roasted vegetables, which is always served cold, with bread and as starter or side dish. Its main ingredients are red pepper and aubergine, and it is dressed with lots of olive oil and sliced garlic.
People usually add dried and salted cod to it (or other kept in oil or salted fish such as tuna jerky or anchovies), which leads to mix it up with the “esgarraet”, a similar dish containing only red pepper and cod.
There are different types of “aspencat” according to tastes, as well as names given to it depending on the way or where it’s cooked. It can be made only with red pepper, aubergine and garlic, with or without salted cod or adding tomato, onion and green pepper. As for its name, it can also be called “rostit”, “torrat” or “torraet”, “esguellat”, “llescaet”… In fact, it is also present in Cataluña, but with a different name, “escalivada”.
If you want to prepare this recipe you only need to roast the aubergine and red peppers in your oven at maximum temperature during about twenty minutes. Once roasted, take them out of the oven and let them chill.
Then, peel and cut them into strips (here comes the fun by doing so with the hands, tearing the vegetables instead of using a knife; hence its name in some cases), place them in a platter with lots of virgin olive oil, sliced garlic and strips of salt cod.
Usually, it is not necessary to add salt if you use dried and salted cod. It is better to prepare this recipe and leave it in the fridge a day or a couple of hours before trying it out; this will make the ingredients develop all their aromas, which makes this dish a true delicacy.