Baccalà (salt cod) is merluzzo (codfish) that is salted and dried. It is versatile and appears in a variety of dishes in the Aliberti-Tringali food repertoire. Baccalà salad is served on Christmas Eve as one of our seven fish courses while fried baccalà, baccalà in tomato sauce and baccalà cakes grace our tables throughout the year.
Baccalà is found in nearly every food market in Rome, Naples and Palermo hanging on boards or in water filled tubs waiting to be taken home, washed and soaked for 12 to 72 hours. It can sometimes be bought ready soaked. Soaking time varies based on the size and saltiness of the fish. I change the water two or three times per day. Leaving it for too little time will leave it super salty while leaving it for too long will leave it flavorless and spongy. Ask your fish vendor to recommend the soaking time required.
The recipes that I cook, devour and cherish are from southern Italy and family recipes. Here is one of my simple favorites. Happy cooking!
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 2 pounds salt cod, soaked
- 2-3 salted anchovies, cleaned
- 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1.5 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup pitted olives (black or green, choose olives that you love)
Cut the baccalà into pieces. Remove the heads from the salted anchovies, clean them and place them in cold water for 15 minutes, then drain. In a separate bowl, rinse and drain the capers. Pit and chop the olives. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the anchovy fillets mashing them as they cook over low heat.Chop the onion and add it to the pan. Stir occasionally for 5 – 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the baccalà. Cook for 5-10 minutes on each side.
Add the wine, capers and olives. Simmer for 15 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve.
I serve this dish as a second course. It’s delicious over potatoes too. Be sure to have crusty bread on hand to dredge through the sauce. Buon appetito!