Salt cod, also known as bacalao, is an air-dried salted cod fish that is popular in Mediterranean, Scandinavian and Canadian cuisine. This salted fish can be combined with vegetables, meats, herbs, spices and stock to prepare hearty soups and stews. Salt cod must be reconstituted to soften, hydrate and desalt before you can use it as an ingredient in foods. As salt cod can be stored for a long period, it is an ideal food to cook during cold or rainy weather when fresh fish is a scarcity. However, you must use proper storage techniques to ensure the quality and longevity of salt cod.
Purchase salted cod or dehydrate two pounds of fresh cod fillets with one pound of sea salt at home. To dehydrate the cod yourself, use a muslin cloth to pat the fillets dry. Gently apply salt all over the cod fillets and place them flesh side down in a glass tray that is covered with salt around 5mm thick. Pour the remainder of the salt all over the cod fillets. Set a clean plastic cutting board over the fillets to serve as a weight in dehydrating them. Loosely place cling film over the cutting board, wrap and seal the tray completely. Place the tray in the refrigerator for five days. Unwrap the fillets and brush away excess salt with paper towels. Set the cod fillets on an oven tray and place in the oven at the lowest setting to dry for 36 hours.
Cover fully-dehydrated salt cod with a cling film or aluminium foil. Store the wrapped salt cod in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Wrap the salt cod in a damp towel if it is not completely dry when you purchase it. Place the wrapped salt cod in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Reconstitute salt cod fillets by placing them in a bowl in a filled with water and put them in the refrigerator. Let the cod soak in water for 24 hours or until the fish softens. Change the water at three intervals during this 24-hour period, then keep soaking the salt cod in the refrigerator for up to three days prior to using.
As salt cod contains a lot of salt, you should season foods cooked with this fish towards the end of the cooking process. In this way, you will avoid adding excessive quantities of salt to the food.
Tips and warnings
- As salt cod contains a lot of salt, you should season foods cooked with this fish towards the end of the cooking process. In this way, you will avoid adding excessive quantities of salt to the food.