Baccala is a fish delicacy traditionally found in Northern European, West African and Caribbean culture and cuisines. It's a white flesh fish, which in effect, is cod that has been preserved by salting and drying.
It can be cooked in many ways, casseroled with onions and potatoes in a tomato based sauce and served with polenta; grilled and served in salad, crumbed into croquettes or whipped into Baccala Mantecato.
Another of our family traditions involves eating Baccala on Good Friday and Christmas Eve.
My aunties in Trieste, Postojna and Rijeka will make Baccala Mantecato as an appetiser and serve it with Crostinis (grilled pieces of bread or polenta slabs). They will occasionally alternate and use Smoked Trout.
Recently, I’ve seen more and more Baccala dishes appearing on Sydney menus, which is a great thing for the Australian palate as it continuously expands to incorporate more left of field ingredients into its daily repertoire.
Baccala Mantecato served on Polenta Slabs.
Notes Before cooking with Baccala, it needs to be desalinated and rehydrated. For simplicity and quickness, you can buy pre-soaked Baccala however, I prefer to buy it as it is and soak it myself as it’s cheaper and I can tailor the saltiness and soaking process. For this recipe, I soaked the Baccala for 30-hours.
Preparation Time: 30-Hours (no preparation time is required if pre-soaked Baccala is purchased)
Cooking Time: 30-minutes
Makes: 2 Cups
Ingredients 750g Baccala (Salted Cod)
1L Soy Milk
Handful of Black Peppercorns
1 Bay Leaf
200ml Light Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove (Crushed)
Soak the cod in cold water for 24-hours changing the water every couple of hours.
Once the cod has been soaked, halve the cod and place into a large pan. Add the soy milk, water, peppercorns and bay leaf.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes. The Baccala should easily flake off with a fork.
Cook the Baccala in milk, water and peppercorns until tender.
Allow the Baccala to cool in the liquid for approximately 30-minutes.
Remove the Baccala from the liquid and discard any bones and the liquid. I used the skin in this recipe as it adds flavour and holds a myriad of nutrients however, this is personal preference.
Flake the Baccala (including the skin) into pieces and place into a blender. Slowly pulse the fish while gradually adding the olive oil, garlic and cream.
Flake Baccala into a blender and slowly add olive oil, garlic and cream while whipping or slowly pulsing the Baccala mixture.
Place the whipped Baccala into a serving bowl.
Serve the Baccala Mantecato on Polenta slabs.
Where to buy Baccala I was in Adelaide over Christmas and was able to buy the Baccala from Rosa’s Gourmet Centre, an Italian Delicatessen. Its sister store Glynburn Gourmet also sells an exquisite selection of marinated produce (which are made on-site) cheeses, breads, smallgoods and imported Italian groceries).
In Sydney, I would normally buy Baccala at the Sydney Fish Markets or at Signorelli Gastronomia in Pyrmont.