This classic Venetian dish is one of the most delicious ways to prepare baccalà, salted cod imported from Europe. When he was head chef at Otto, James Kidman demonstrated this recipe at Gusto, the Italian festival held at the Seafood School each year, and we lived off the delicious leftovers for the next week. It is very moreish - slightly salty, uffy and great to share from a big bowl with pre-dinner drinks. Baccalà is available from some delis and fishmongers (don't buy stockfish, which has been air-dried and is much harder). If you buy salt cod on the bone, you'll need about 1.5kg. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead: it's important to soak the cod well to extract most of the salt.
- 1.1 kg salt cod fillets (baccalà), skin on
- 325 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 150 ml milk
- 150 ml pouring cream
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 3 sprigs thyme
- For serving: Ligurian olives and grilled sourdough bread
- 1Soak the salt cod, covered, in the fridge for 24-36 hours, changing the water every few hours when possible (but at least 3 times).
- 2Drain the cod and place it in a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the cod from the water and, when cool enough to handle, break the flesh into small pieces, discarding any skin, bones and dark bits.
- 3Place the oil in a small saucepan and heat it to about 70C; the oil should be hot but not sizzling. Cover with a lid and set aside to keep warm.
- 4Combine the milk, cream, garlic, bay leaf and thyme in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and thyme. Remove the garlic, then cover the pan to keep warm. Place the garlic in a mortar and pound with a pestle to form a paste.
- 5Place the cod and the garlic paste in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. While beating on medium-high speed, slowly and carefully add a little of the hot milk mixture, then a little hot oil, alternating until all the milk mixture and oil have been added and regularly scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat for a further minute or two on high speed, until it sounds like the paste
is slapping against the sides of the bowl.
- 6Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm with olives and grilled bread.
Note This recipe was published in the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook ($49.99, hbk, Penguin Lantern) by Roberta Muir and has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.