Baccalà (dried and salted cod) is cod which has been preserved by drying after salting. The drying of food is the world’s oldest known preservation method, and dried fish has a shelf life of several years. Traditionally, salt cod was dried only by the wind and the sun, but nowadays it is usually dried indoors with the help of an electric heater. During the 17th century cheap salt became available to Northern Europe, and the affordable product was easily transported to the consumer. Salt cod was also an integral part of the trade between Europe and Asia, and it spread around the Atlantic and became a traditional ingredient in the Mediterranean and many other cuisines. Because drying preserves many nutrients, it is said that salting and drying makes the cod tastier. This particular recipe showcases how salted cod is used in the Tuscan city of Florence. The cod is prepared with a refreshing tomato sauce and combined with rosemary, garlic and parsley.
800 gr/ 1 2/3 lb baccalà (dried and salted cod)
all-purpose flour for dusting
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
fresh rosemary sprigs
1 onion, sliced
2 cans of peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, finely chopped
Before preparing the fish, you need to rehydrate it. Soak it in water for 2-3 days, changing the water every 8 hours or so. Test the saltiness by breaking off a small piece. If it is still extremely salty, let it continue soaking as long as possible.
Remove the skin of the baccalà. Cut the fish into ca. 5 x 7 cm or 2 x 2 2/3 inch pieces.
Dust the fish pieces with flour. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and the rosemary. Add the baccalà and continue frying for a few minutes. Set the fish pieces aside to dry on kitchen towels.
Put the pan back on the heat and saute the onion together with the garlic until the onion softens. Then add the peeled tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. Add the fish pieces and continue frying for about 10 minutes. Let the sauce rest for a minutes before serving and garnish each plate with fresh flat leaf parsley.