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Author Notes: This Venetian classic of whipped cod calls for dried (unsalted) stockfish - somewhat confusingly, the Venetians call stockfish baccalà, which in the rest of Italy is salted cod. Dried stockfish needs to be soaked in water for 1-3 days before use, depending on the quality of the stockfish. You can sometimes find it conveniently pre-soaked and ready to use, which is where this recipe begins. You could also substitute salted cod although it will be slightly different from the traditional Venetian dish. Like many traditional recipes, there are a number of variations - you could poach the stockfish with some lemon and bay leaf instead of the garlic cloves; in a Venetian Jewish kitchen you'll find the stockfish is poached in milk and water. Garlic lovers may like to add finely chopped, raw garlic at the end for a kick. Otherwise, served with some slices of baguette or grilled white polenta, it needs nothing more other than perhaps a sprinkle of chopped parsley for some, some white pepper or nutmeg for others, and a glass of something sparkly in hand. This is the traditional recipe in its simplest form. —Emiko
Makes 2 cups
- 25 ounces (700 gr) baccalà (stockfish, already soaked)
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
- salt and white pepper to taste
- Place the baccalà in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender (test by pricking with a fork, if it's still too firm, give it a little more time).
- Drain the fish, reserving a little of the water if needed later. Remove the garlic, skin and any large bones.
- Break the fish into pieces and place in a bowl (or your mixer/food processor if using - but note that this will result in a different consistency). Then, while the fish is still hot, begin whipping to 'cream' the fish with a whisk or -- if you're going old-school -- a wooden spoon. At the same time, add the olive oil in a thin, slow drizzle and continue whipping energetically until you have a creamy, mousse-like consistency, with some larger pieces here and there. This is easiest done with two people, but otherwise just pause every now and then to add the olive oil in stages. You may need a little more olive oil, you may find you don't need all of it. You might even need a little of the cooking water if it is too dry or too dense. This all really depends on the quality of the stockfish and how long it was soaked for prior to cooking.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve on slices of baguette or grilled (white) polenta. If you like, scatter some chopped parsley over the top; some prefer a pinch of nutmeg; those who like it with a kick can stir in some chopped, raw garlic.
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