5 Ingredients or Fewer

Baccalà Mantecato

September 12, 2013
1 Ratings
  • Makes 2 cups
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. 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).
  2. Drain the fish, reserving a little of the water if needed later. Remove the garlic, skin and any large bones.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Flirty Foodie
    Flirty Foodie
  • Emiko
  • tylerdbaker
  • thumperian

9 Reviews

tylerdbaker April 15, 2015
I could only find salt cod, would that work as long as it's soaked sufficiently so it's no longer salty?

Also, can I make it the night before I want to serve it? Should it be warmed?

Emiko April 16, 2015
Absolutely to both questions. It can be served at room temperature but warm is lovely too.
Flirty F. November 21, 2013
Okay I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Baccalà Mantecato. I spent quite a bit of time in Venice this summer, and it was kind of my addiction. I kind of felt like a woman with pregnancy cravings without the pregnancy part. lol. I tried Cantina Do Spade's zucchini flowers filled with baccala' mantecato. absolutely out of this world
thumperian September 17, 2013
You misspelled the cicchetti. And I've never heard anyone in Venice refere to just one of them. You might tells readers how very long it takes to soak the salt cod, including changes of water.
Emiko September 17, 2013
Hi there, actually there are a number of ways to spell cicheto/cicheti (cicchetto/cicchetti), including the Venetian dialect way, and I've chosen the most common form in Italian (if you google it, you'll see what I mean). I've spent quite a lot of time in Venice doing residencies over a number of years so I like to think I know a thing or two about one of my favourite past times, which is hopping from one bacaro to another. ;) The recipe here is for pre-soaked stockfish, but if you'd like to see more about how to soak, take a look at the comment below or visit this article here, which was linked in my original article about baccalà mantecato! Thanks! http://food52.com/blog/5557-unsung-ingredient-salt-cod
Demington September 17, 2013
Please include instructions for soaking.
Emiko September 17, 2013
Soaking simply involves placing the stockfish in fresh water and changing the water every so often for 24 hours (or sometimes up to 3 days!). The timing really depends on the stockfish, so just check it for tenderness. You can read more about plus a tip for speeding up the process over at this article: http://food52.com/blog/5557-unsung-ingredient-salt-cod
Helens September 17, 2013
I'm confused. Are we supposed to use stockfish (not salted) or saltfish?
Emiko September 17, 2013
Unsalted dried stockfish is the traditional ingredient. It's easy to get confused as the Venetians call stockfish baccala' (which is the salted cod) - read more about it here: http://food52.com/blog/8173-baccala-mantecato