I first found out about this delicacy when I was visiting Venice in 2007 with my beautiful family. I was intrigued because I had never savored baccala that way before. Baccala is Italian for dried salted cod fish. It’s a delicious spread (dip) that originated in the region of Venice, Italy. It’s not that difficult to prepare but it can be a bit tricky. If you follow my instructions carefully, your spread will be a success just like mine. You will be using fillet (boned) code fish that’s cured in salt. It’s usually found in a plastic bag near the seafood department of your grocery store. I am certain, you can also find it in the outdoor markets without the plastic, depending what part of the world you live in. Fear not, it’s cured with lots of salt and it’s not easily perishable. If you don’t properly prepare it, you will be left with a dish that is inedible due to the high sodium content. You will need a little less than two hours from start to finish to obtain the final results. Today, I am using a food processor and not my hands, which could be a daunting task. This is the perfect appetizer for an Italian-themed party, and pairs lusciously with Prosecco or any bubbly of your choice. I promise you, if your guests like seafood, they will be impressed with your culinary skills.
Serves: 8-10 as an appetizer – Level of difficulty: Medium
- 16 oz. Salted Cod Fish boned
- Water to boil the cod fish and potatoes
- 2 medium gold potatoes, peeled, cut up
- 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
- Black pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnish, optional
- Garlic bread, crostini, or polenta
1) Rinse the salt off the fish. Next, In a large plastic bowl, place the cod fish and cover it with fresh room temperature (tap) water. Let it soak for about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat the same process for another 45 minutes. (You will be adding fresh water and let it soak a second time) for a total of at LEAST 90 minutes. Drain again.
2)Place in a large saucepan, cover with fresh water and boil for 5-7 minutes until it becomes a little flaky. There will be large chunks and it will not fall apart at that point. Drain. Set aside.
3) In the meanwhile, boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. *
4) It’s time to put it all together. In a food processor, put the cod, potatoes, garlic, half and half and PULSE for about 40 – 60 seconds or so, until all the ingredients come together nicely. At that point, you should see some little chunks of fish, and the mixture will appear a little dry.
5) Slowly, add the oil and run the food processor on HIGH until you obtain a mousse-like texture as in mashed potatoes. (about 30-60 seconds). Always, check your food to make sure you do not over process it. You will run the risk of changing the texture by liquefying it too much. The spread will look creamy, with flakes or little shreds of fish. It’s done. Look at my pictures!
6) Spread it over bread, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with black pepper and parsley. You can also serve it in a bowl, and let your guest dig in. Traditionally in Venice, it’s served over polenta. Either way, you eat it, it will be delectable and very enticing to the taste buds.
I hope you have enjoyed this delicious and healthy recipe, and plan to make it soon. Let me hear about your experience. From what I gather, people are having a difficult time obtaining the right consistency. It may take some practice.
Cook’s notes: * You can use the same pan you used for the cod to boil the potatoes to avoid a mess in the kitchen.
Make sure the sauce pan is large enough, if not, the water will overflow and create a mess when cooking the fish. I have a few tricks up my sleeves, having been in the kitchen for nearly 30 years. To make the bread, drizzle with olive oil, and a dab of butter. Broil for 1-2 minutes. Voila!
All photos are exclusively mine except for the small picture of the bag – I wanted to show you what it looks like. If it says boned, chunks, it will work also. It’s IMPORTANT that you used the fillet (without the bones) Keep in mind, there are probably different companies depending on where you live.
This recipe was created in my kitchen and I take full credit for the measurements and method of preparation.
I hope you will try this delicious spread and share your thoughts with me. I would love to hear your feedback. I may come back to add some personal photos from our trip to Venice. I need to publish this today, as my followers on social media are patiently waiting for the recipe.
Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas – Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles