Salted cod and potato mash
Baccalà – salted and dried cod holds a special place in the holiday traditions of Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Croatia. During Christmas and Easter, families gather to enjoy baccalà dishes that have been cherished for generations. It symbolizes togetherness, celebration, and the preservation of cultural heritage, making every bite a testament to shared history and joyous moments.
Baccalà’s versatility knows no bounds, as it can be featured in various recipes. From hearty stews and soups to flavorful pastas, and mouthwatering appetizers, baccalà adds depth and character to every dish. Its distinctive taste effortlessly blends with other ingredients, resulting in a harmonious fusion of flavors that excite the palate.
The history of baccalà traces back to ancient times when salted and dried cod became a staple for long voyages and exploration. This method of preservation allowed sailors to sustain themselves during extended journeys, shaping the course of history. Today, baccalà pays homage to this historical significance, connecting us to our culinary roots while adding a touch of nostalgia to modern dishes.
You can enjoy creamy Baccala mash in various ways, making it an excellent addition to your culinary repertoire. As an appetizer, serve it on bite-sized pieces of crusty bread or toasted crostini. The smooth texture and rich flavors of the mash perfectly complement the warm bread.
But don’t limit its enjoyment to just an appetizer! This baccalà and potato mash can easily take center stage as a hearty main meal. Pair a larger portion with a vibrant salad or steamed vegetables for a complete and balanced dish. The creamy mash, infused with the delicate flavors of garlic, parsley, and olive oil, provides a comforting meal and will please the palate.
For those unable to find dry salt cod, there’s a convenient alternative that maintains a similar taste profile. I always use a fresh cod paired with smoked cod, a perfect substitute. While the texture may differ slightly, the combination imparts a comparable flavor experience. It is very important to include a piece of smoked cod to infuse the dish with its distinct smoky essence.
In addition to using fresh cod and smoked cod as a substitution for dry salt cod, there are further possibilities . You can experiment with different combinations of smoked fish alongside fresh cod to create unique flavor profiles. The smoky undertones of various smoked fish varieties can add an exciting twist to the traditional baccalà recipe.
If you prefer a more luxurious version, the addition of lobster meat or prawns can take the dish to new heights. These indulgent seafood options complement the flavors of the cod and add a touch of opulence to the overall experience. The interplay of textures and flavors creates a truly memorable dining experience.
My mum always used to prepare baccala for Easter and Christmas Eve, so I continued this tradition. But considering my love for fish, especially cod mash, I prepare it throughout the year. I think I’ve prepared it with the salty dry cod only twice in my lifetime. It’s almost impossible to find it in London, but I did stumble upon it in an Italian delicacy shop. Using this type of cod is quite time-consuming, but the taste is absolutely incredible. However, since I moved to London, I’ve been using fresh cod and smoked varieties, which come pretty close to the original taste.
In this baccala recipe, you can play around with the amount of potato to suit your taste. While the recipe calls for 2 large potatoes per 400g of fish, some might prefer a more pronounced fishy flavor and choose to add just one potato. Personally, I find a lovely balance by using an equal amount of potato and fish. So go ahead and have fun experimenting with different ratios to discover your own perfect baccala blend.
For all seafood lovers:
Here is baccala served as a side dish alongside spicy grilled scallops and pimento peppers. I prepared this delightful dish for a Christmas Eve celebration a few years ago. It’s also a perfect choice for a romantic summer dinner or to impress your guests with its simplicity and deliciousness. Try this baccala recipe and indulge in the flavors of the sea.
Traditional baccala, a delightful blend of cod and potato mash, infused with extra virgin unfiltered olive oil and abundant parsley. Served as a magnificent main meal on Christmas Eve. It pairs perfectly with homemade warm bread and a glass of sparkling bubbly. Experience the authentic flavors and warmth of this festive dish, a cherished tradition for many.
Baccala alla Veneziana : Cod mash
- 400 g – salted dry cod - if you can not find it then get 300g of good quality fresh cod fillet + 100g of smoked cod fillet
- 2 – large potatoes - good for mash
- 100 ml – good quality extra virgin olive oil - unfiltered
- 100 ml – milk
- 20 g – butter
- 3 cloves – garlic - very finely chopped, can be add as fresh or lightly fried for 30 seconds
- 1/2 cup – finely chopped parsley - basically lots!
- 1 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
- 1 tsp – sea salt
- a few lemon slices to garnish
- Soak the salted cod: Place the salted cod in a large bowl of cold water and let it soak for 2 days, changing the water at least once a day. This helps to remove excess salt.
- In a pressure pot, cook the soaked cod for about 45 minutes until it becomes tender. If using fresh cod and smoked cod, cook together in hot boiling water with salt for about 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Drain the water and let the fish cool.
- In a separate pot, boil the potatoes with their skin on for approximately 45 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a fork.
- Flake the fish: Remove the skin and bones from the cod. Use your fingers to flake the fish into small chunks.
- Peel the boiled potatoes and add them to the bowl with the fish. Mash the potatoes and fish together using a fork or potato masher. Add milk, butter, minced garlic, chopped parsley, black pepper, and salt to taste. Mix well until all the ingredients are properly combined. Gradually add the olive oil and continue stirring with a wooden spoon to achieve a smooth consistency. For a finer texture, you can use a mixer to create a fine pate.
- Spread the creamy baccalà and potato mash over warm, freshly baked bread. It makes a delightful appetizer or snack.