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LindaK

Salt Cod Diary

205 posts in this topic

You should definitely look to the Caribbean for some interesting salt cod (commonly called salt fish there) recipes. My favourite (though my Trini blood does make me biased) is Buljol. Served with fresh bakes and you have a true Trinidadian breakfast.

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Last night I made salt cod and shrimp fritters to serve with drinks. No photos, sorry, I’d forgotten to recharge the camera battery.

The recipe came from David Leite’s The New Portuguese Table and varies from the standard salt cod fritter recipe in a couple of interesting ways:

Adding chopped shrimp. It adds sweetness to the fritter and the salt cod becomes an earthy backnote. Leite says that this recipe is “ideal for those still acquiring a taste for salt cod” and he’s right.

Separating the egg used for binding, and whipping the egg white before folding it in at the very end. Between the cod and potato, fritters can sometimes be heavy. As you’d expect, this resulted in a fritter that was lighter than usual. I noticed this same technique in some of the salt cod recipes in the Norwegian site that hansjoakin posted earlier, too, so I imagine it would be easy to import this technique into any fritter recipe if this appeals to you. I liked the results a lot and will use it again.

I need to read up on the Caribbean use of salt cod. The Pawlcyn recipe introduced me to the salt cod and chili combination, and it's delicious and addictive.



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Back again, with 3 lbs of salt cod waiting for inspiration. Over the past weeks, I’ve been reading, trying to learn more about the use of salt cod outside of my comfort zone of fritters and brandade.

Information is scattered. One of the few books I’ve found with extensive information and recipes on salt cod is Coleman Andrew’s Catalan Cuisine, recommended above. It has a rice dish that looks fabulous—except that you don’t soak the cod before cooking with it. Hmm. Does anyone have experience with that technique?

I would love other reading suggestions, especially about Caribbean cuisine, which looks fascinating—lots of greens, legumes, and scotch bonnet chilies.

But in the meantime, last night I made a small batch of the salt cod and shrimp fritters, mostly because I’m trying to take advantage of Maine shrimp before the season ends. They are so sweet, they actually dominate the flavor here, but in a good way. This time I took a picture.

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I'll be more adventurous with the next post.



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How timely again! I just read about salt cod in the intro chapters of My Calabria (a really nice looking book!) and I've been curious about this stuff for a long time.

The book echoes what was said here, don't buy the box or even shrink wrapped, since you often get one nice piece on top, lots of bits and pieces underneath. Go to Italian markets and look there, the piece the OP posted here is gorgeous! I'll have to check around here, have only seen it once (bought it, forgot it in the back of the fridge.....) and I can't remember where, think Asian market.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Last night’s dinner was remojón, a Spanish salad of oranges and salt cod that I first discovered in Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Cooking.

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It’s a specialty of the Andalusia and the basic recipe is very simple: orange supremes, salt cod, vinaigrette of sherry vinegar and olive oil, black olives. Most recipes add hard boiled eggs to make a more substantial meal.

The method of cooking the cod is entirely new to me: the unsalted cod is toasted under a hot broiler until lightly browned, then it is soaked. Later, it’s flaked and tossed with the vinaigrette and the oranges, then allowed to marinate—almost like a ceviche.

The combination of sweet-savory-salty flavors is delicious, though I am not sure I got the balance exactly right on this first try (a bit too much vinaigrette). Instead of oranges, I used tangelos, as Paula suggested, which are a little more tart. I will make this again—together, the bright, juicy citrus and rich fish really hit the spot in the middle of winter.

You need some good bread to mop up the lovely juices. I put together an olive fougasse, one of the few breads I know how to make.

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Chris, the greens in the fritters above are just parsley and cilantro. They do contribute flavor, not just pretty color.



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Chris, that's a very interesting question, I'm glad you asked.

Paula Wolfert wrote that the toasting step would make it easier to pull the salt cod into strips. And it's true that the quick broil cooked the fish a bit--the outside layer began to flake, so that later, after soaking, it was easy to pinch a section of the cod and peel it off into neat pieces.

However, there was something else going on. I watched it carefully while it was under the broiler (how quickly can salt cod burn? I did not want to find out) and noticed a slightly frothy layer forming a light crust on top--that's what was browning. I investigated--meaning, I plucked off a small piece of the "crust" and took a taste--and ran for the water bottle. Pure salt. The heat was pulling the residual moisture from the fish, which brought salt with it. It was so unexpected that I took a picture. A bad picture, but you can see that the nice smooth surface of the fish looks all lumpy and bumpy:

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That's all salt. As soon as I put it into a bowl of water to soak, it completely dissolved and looked like a smooth piece of fish again. The result was that the desalting process was much faster than usual. When I tasted the soaked fish after 24 hrs, it was ready to use. In fact maybe it had soaked too long.

I had wondered at the recipes I'd seen for remojón that called for a soak of only a few hours or overnight. Depending on the saltiness of your fish, that now makes sense. Keep in mind that I had rinsed the exterior salt from the cod (and patted it dry) before putting it under the broiler. That salty crust clearly came from the interior of the fish. Now, you still need the soak to reconstitute the dried cod, since it isn't going to be poached. But this toasting step seems crucial for using salt cod in this "ceviche" style.



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... I try everything at least three times...

ChrisTaylor, what Brits call "fish cakes" are a ready-made supermarket standard there, and a popular dish to prepare at home. The normal fish/spud ratio is indeed 50:50. I've talked about them from time to time on eG - once here with a photo.

I think it's important to taste the mixture before breading & frying. They can be very bland - salt, yes of course. Otherwise the usual suspects to give some zing - lemon, parsley. The Brit standard, again, uses white pepper. Of course plenty of other things work if you've a mind to use them - black pepper, garlic, you can think up a list just as well as I can.

Chris A, I too think smoked paprika is a great choice, and I think "earthy and wonderful" is spot-on.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Garbanzos con bacalao --Chickpea stew with salt cod

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Like every other traditional recipe, there are lots of variations out there. I used one that I found on José Andrés’s web site: here

This was not a great success. Too much pimentón, I wonder if the recipe should read teaspoons rather than tablespoons. But I like the concept, and it came together quickly—thanks to having pre-soaked salt cod in the freezer—so I’ll play around with the combination again. If anyone has a good recipe for this, please share.



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Good timing, I have been trying to remember what my grandmothers canederli with a saltcod based white sauce was really like.(last time I had it was probably in the 1940's), anyway will go to the Italian market one of these days soon, and buy some and make up a batch.. Then get to work on my canederli technique..

Bud

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Chiles Rellenos de Bacalao

A detour to Mexico, courtesy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. I did a double-take when I stumbled across the recipe. Until now I had not seen any mention of salt cod in Mexican cooking, but Bayless says that it is a standard on Oaxacan Christmas menus.

First you make the filling—salt cod simmered in a sauce of roasted tomatoes, diced potato, onion, garlic, green olives, parsley, and jalapeno. The strong flavors balance the cod nicely. The recipe has you cook the cod for more than 1 hour, but that seemed like a crazy long time to me. I pulled it off the heat after 30 minutes, that was plenty, unless you want the salt cod to turn to mush.

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Roast poblanos, remove seeds, fill, then bake. Very easy and tasty. Here they are just out of the oven, a little overfilled. I don’t have a photo of the plated rellenos but I served them with beans and rice on the side with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

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This would be a good recipe for someone unsure about whether they’ll like salt cod. Bayless says that it took him a while to develop a taste for it, too.

I must say, the total deliciousness of pairing salt cod with chiles has taken me by surprise.



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I think the chile and salt cod marriage sounds wonderful. I will have to explore. At the end of this, how would you describe the texture of the cod?

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That's fascinating. What variety of green olives did you use?

Manzanillo, per Bayless's recommendation. They added both texture and acidity from the brine--a nice addition to the mix.

I think the chile and salt cod marriage sounds wonderful. I will have to explore. At the end of this, how would you describe the texture of the cod?

The cod had broken into flakes when I stopped the cooking, firm but still tender. Like fresh fish, it can get tough if overcooked so once it was done I took the mixture off the heat. The rellenos were only in the oven for a short time, just to heat them through, it didn't really cook the fish any further.

I've been wondering about the affinity of salt cod for both potatoes and chilis. The potatoes, I always assumed, because they stretch the flavor and soak up some of the salt. The chilis, though, add an entirely new dimension to the cod. The cod cakes that I made up-topic that included chilis--just some chopped roasted jalapenos--were the best I've ever eaten, the jalapenos not only added flavor but helped cut through a very rich mixture. I'm looking forward to exploring Caribbean recipes for salt cod--they all seem to use chilis, mostly scotch bonnet--ouch!



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Until now I had not seen any mention of salt cod in Mexican cooking, but Bayless says that it is a standard on Oaxacan Christmas menus.

Doing some morning reading with Diana Kennedy's The Art of Mexican Cooking. Sure enough, there was a recipe for Bacalao a la Vizcana--Dried Cod for Christmas Eve.

The filling recipe is pretty much the same as Bayless's (or vice versa!), with slightly more jalapenos and the addition of slivered almonds. She notes that it improves by being made ahead of time and can be frozen successfully. She also suggests using it as a filling for empanadas, which sounds really, really delicious.



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Arròs amb Capetes de Totero, from Catalan Cuisine by Coleman Andrews.

This recipe is all about the rice. It uses only a small amount of salt cod for flavor—6 ounces to about 2 cups of rice—and it’s cooked simply with a little tomato, chickpeas, lots of garlic and a pinch of saffron. The recipe name comes from the garnish of roasted red peppers, which represent bullfighters' capes.

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I was skeptical when I first read the recipe because the salt cod isn’t given the usual presoak, just a brief simmer before being added to the rice. The ingredient list finally tempted me but I was fully prepared to find this inedible. Nope. The rice and chickpeas effectively soak up the salt.

This is the salt cod version of tuna casserole. Total comfort food. It might not look very pretty but it's delicious.

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Chris, I used a short-grain rice that I found in a spanish market near home. Okay but not great. I want to try it with the round-grain spanish rice that's used for paella. I didn't have any on hand, though Andrews says that you can substitute italian arborio. This dish is cooked like paella, on top of the stove, uncovered, not stirred during cooking. Because it really is about the rice, I think that seeking out a superior rice would be worth the effort.



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I've been cooking quite a bit with salt cod lately; today a delicious salt cod loin with lentils, salt pork and cauliflower.

salt_cod_lentils.jpg

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Hans, that looks beautiful. The combination of fish and lentils is one of my favorites. How did you cook the cod? My efforts to cook whole pieces of salt cod weren't always successful.

Thanks for bumping up this topic. Now that cool weather has arrived, I've been thinking about salt cod again, wondering where to start.



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I find salting your own cod produces a much better result, buying in the pre-salted cod like we used to do at a few places I've worked makes the end result a little too salty and fishy for me.

Salting for ten days, soaking in regular changes of water for three, then poaching in aromatic cream gives a result that is heavenly to me.

One of my favourite dishes (other than made into baccala then crumbed and fried) is using the flakes bound with white onion puree in a puff pastry tart, with a chorizo vinaigrette and some wild rocket.


James.

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Broken English, thanks for the poaching suggestion, I can imagine how that would mellow the flavor quite a bit. Though the fish probably breaks up somewhat while cooking, yes? Of course that's no problem if you plan on flaking it afterwards anyway.

That tart recipe is an inspired combination of flavors. I'd love to see a picture (hint).



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I only poach it until it's just cooked, so the breaking apart is minimal as long as you're careful. Still, if you're flaking it afterwards, it really doesn't matter, as you said. I tend not to serve it as a loin, just because with the Italian training I've had, it's most often flaked or made into baccala.

I find that garlic, thyme, black pepper and bay leaves in the cream adds a nice subtle flavour.

I'm no longer working in that place, I've just moved to Canada from Sydney for a while, and I have no equipment in my home kitchen, so it won't be happening any time soon, haha.

I do love using chorizo with fish though, so I will definately post a picture when I do it in the future.


Edited by Broken English (log)

James.

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