salt cod - how to cook and store?

I bought some salt cod at the store the other day. It's packed in a vacuum pack, smothered with salt. Very dehydrated and firm. In the shop it was at room temp, so am I right in thinking I can just keep it in the cupboard? This is a pre-refrigerator way of preserving fish, or do they do things differently nowadays?

How shall I cook this? I understand I need to soak it in several changes of clear water to get out the salt before I do anything with it. But what if I only want to use a small amount at a time? Can I just cut off one person portion and then re-wrap up the rest of the salted cod?

I saw a recipe for fish cakes on the food52 site that looks yummy, but it won't use up the whole packet and I don't love fish cakes enough to double the recipe.

Considering it use to be one of the most common protein sources in Europe during the Middle ages, I was hoping to find some more recipes. Even my Medieval cook books don't seem to have any.

Anyone out there ever cooked with salt cod before? How did you find it? What kind of recipe did you make?

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11 Comments

lem M. March 5, 2014
try searching for baccalà to find the bounty of italian recipes using it – from the venetian classic baccalà mantecato (a kind of mousse to be put on crostini) to alla livornese (stewed in tomato sauce, and i second the suggestion of macella hazan’s version, sometimes sprinkled with gremolata and seved with creamy polenta).
 
lem M. March 5, 2014
… not to forget the lovely roman fried polpette di baccalà!
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 5, 2014
Just saw this recipe on my Facebook feed for chips made with salt cod: http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/fritas-de-bacalhau-pan-fried-salt-cod-chips?src=SOC&dom=fb
 
Greenstuff March 5, 2014
Simple creamed cod over potatoes was a standard in my mother's Swedish immigrant household during the Depression. One of those childhood comfort foods.

Before starting the soaking, my mother's grandmother would pinch a salty bit of the dried cod off for each of the children. They'd take them outside on the back porch and savor.
 
trampledbygeese March 5, 2014
I can't thank you enough for the advice. It's so much more helpful to have people who have worked with the ingredients.

Sometimes I worry about cookbooks. Either they haven't tested the recipes, or maybe they are working with some other definition of the ingredient. I can never tell which.

Any other recipe ideas for salt cod? I've got a lot of it here, and if it's yummy, hope to get more. Good price for fish.
 
Greenstuff March 5, 2014
June has it absolutely right, overnight plus blanching won't do it, even if you love salt.
 
ChefJune March 5, 2014
Even after the two days of soaking, you're always going to cook the fish before you put it with anything. Or some long cooking in a sauce.
 

Voted the Best Reply!

ChefJune March 5, 2014
Yes, I cook salt cod regularly! You are fine storing the board that is salt cod in your cupboard, pantry or any other dry storage. There is no need to refrigerate or freeze it in this state -- nor to wrap it in anything. It will keep as it is, vurtually forever. This recipe for Brandade de Morue http://food52.com/recipes/25096-brandade-de-morue has all the instructions you need for reconstituting the salt cod. It should take two days and at least 4 changes of water to come up to where you will want to eat what you've cooked with it. Please ignore anything you may have read that says it takes only one day. I have always found when I "cheated" and only soaked it one day that the finished product was way too salty and the texture was unpleasant. The two day soak will turn the board you are holding into a fresh piece of cod!
Don't hesitate to ask any more questions you may have.
 
trampledbygeese March 5, 2014
2 days, not just overnight. Good to know. One of the medieval recipes I've found has it soaking overnight (in several changes of water), then blanched in a broth before adding to the final dish. Do you think this blanching process would be a substitute for the extra soaking time, or are they just being overly optimistic about how much salt will leach out?
 
trampledbygeese March 5, 2014
sorry, not blanched, poached for 20 min in a light broth before adding to the main dish.
 
Jean C. April 5, 2019
ChefJune - I bought a frozen bag of salted Cod Fish .. I soaked it for 2 days , now can I refreeze it ?? Or do I have to cook the entire amount ?
 
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