Salted cod or salt cod or baccalà, as it is known in Italy, is eaten throughout the year but I tend to think of it as a dish that is particularly fitting for cold days and nights. Each region in Italy has its own way of preparing this fish that hails from the freezing cold waters of the North (usually Norwegian waters) … and by and by, I shall probably devote a blog or two to typical baccalà recipes, e.g. baccalà mantecato or il baccalà alla livornese and what have you.
The baccalà I made the other day was …. an anonymous way of cooking it, meaning there is no posh name to give it any special ‘wow’ factor. The taste, on the other hand, was something else. If you like baccalà, and I do, this recipe is the equivalent of, or akin to … scrambled eggs on toast … or … tomato soup with melted cheddar in it. In other words, comforting, tasty, and eminently easy to make.
Here is the fillet of baccalà which had already been soaked in water for at least two days, in order to get rid of any rigidity and excruciating saltiness from its white flesh.
A not-so-fabulous fillet of baccalà will have a mildly yellow-ish tinge to it … it’s still edible, yes, but the stuff in this photo is something else!
This is what it looks like if you turn it over … the skin is ever so vaguely similar to … snake skin … mmmm. And it needs to come off.
The knife has to be at a slant in order to get rid of the skin …
So … on the left we have the skin … on the right we have the lovely white flesh. We can fry the skin … it goes crisp! But that comes later … let’s cook the flesh first.
Cut the baccalà into chunks and dust it all over with some flour.
Have a frying pan at the ready, with plenty of olive oil … and some pink peppercorns and a little bit of garlic. Baccalà can hold its own against garlic, hands down.
Here I am dusting the baccalà with flour … and deciding that I will also use a little sprig of rosemary.
Turn on the heat … allow the garlic to turn a paler shade of gold … and plop in the chunks of baccalà … the heat is a medium one … it doesn’t take much to cook the baccalà.
When it is done on one side, use a slotted spoon or whatever implement you prefer, and very gently turn the baccalà over on the other side.
At his point, add some cherry tomatoes … out of a can or glass jar if you don’t have fresh.
Get your serving pot ready … and this one is a beauty …
And serve. It may not look much … but, believe me, it is incredibly rich and satisfying. Serve with boiled potatoes … or chunks of bread … or, which was what I did that evening … with fritters made out of chickpea flour.
Here is the batter made of: 300g of chickpea flour, combined with 400ml of water and a splosh of olive oil.
Fry in small batches, in olive oil.
Sprinkle some nice salt and fresh herbs of your choice … in this case it was rosemary and marjoram.
I am sorry and I apologise because I have no nice photos to show of the baccalà and the fritters together which, in blog terms, is a bit like coitus interruptus. What happened was that the minute I put the food on the table, and someone started dishing it out, the camera got relegated to very far back seat … as is wont to happen in real life. Blogs are fabulous and I love writing mine … but it is still vicarious for all that. And there can be nothing vicarious about cooking and eating! Try these recipes one day … they are incredibly easy and yield beautiful results.