Salt cod, also known as bacalao (Spanish), bacalhau (Portuguese) or baccalà (Italian), is spread throughout the Mediterranean and used in a variety of ways. A very distinct way of preparation is this Venetian dish for which the cod is processed – traditionally in a mortar – with olive oil and served on a piece of toasted polenta. It comes out fluffy and light and makes an excellent starter / tapas or main.
- 400 grams of salt cod
- 200 gram of polenta (instant)
- sea salt
- 750 ml of milk
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 175 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground white pepper, fleur de sea
- some olive oil (for cooking)
- For decoration: 1-2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley
Soaking the salt cod:
- 2 days before cooking, rinse & soak the salt cod in plenty of cold fresh water. Cover and keep in the fridge.
- Replace the water every 8 to 10 hours.
- At the end of the soaking time, cut off a small corner and boil in water for a few minutes to test whether it is still too salty. When the cod is fine, prepare in accordance with the next steps.
Preparing the polenta (step 1):
- Cook the polenta with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in accordance with the instructions on the package. It is recommended to use instant polenta.
- Spread the hot polenta on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place another sheet of parchment paper and another baking sheet on top. Weigh down with a heavy saucepan or saucepot. Let cool down completely.
Preparing the salt cod:
- Boil the fish with the bay leaf and peppercorns in the milk. Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
- Take off the heat, cover and let rest for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the fish from the milk, pluck off the meat and remove the skin and bones.
- Place the meat in a food processor. Add 5 to 6 tablespoons of the milk. Pulse until it turns into a paste.
- On low speed, very slowly add the olive oil. When all of the oil is added, the baccalà should be very creamy and fluffy.
- Season to taste with fleur de sel and white pepper. Let cool down completely (but do not refrigerate if you intend to serve it immediately – if refrigerated, remove from the fridge approximately 30 minutes before serving).
Preparing the polenta (step 2):
- Cut the polenta into rectangles and toast on both side in a pan in some olive oil. Place on / pat with a kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
- Scoop a ball of baccalà onto each individual plate (can be done with two tablespoons).
- Place one or two pieces of hot polenta on each dish.
- Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley.