Grilled Salted Cod

Baccalà alla Griglia

Grilled Salted Cod

Today’s post is the 3rd straight recipe involving seafood of some sort — and we’ve 4 more to go. For today’s dish, we return to the grill but this time, after some discussion, a grill basket is used.   You see, fresh from my success with the grilled sturgeon, I wanted to try grilling salted cod, baccalà, directly on the grill plates. What could go wrong? Well, when I spoke with Zia about my plan, not only did she mention what could go wrong but she also pointed out that we Bartolini always grilled baccalà lightly breaded and in a basket.  How could I fight that kind of logic? This is, after all, a place for documenting our family’s recipes. So, moments later, she was explaining how baccalà was grilled in the Old Days and I was wondering where I’d put my grill basket. You needn’t worry, however, if you’re a fan of grill marks on you fish. We’ll return to the grill next week, when swordfish is on the menu.

With the grilling method out-of-the-way, let’s briefly recap baccalà and its preparation. For centuries, cod was caught, cleaned, and dried primarily in Scandinavia before distribution across Europe. If the cod is salted and then air-dried, it’s called salted cod, baccalà in Italy. If the cod is hung and air-dried, it is called stock fish, stoccafisso in Italy. (In Italy, all stoccafisso is cod but that’s not necessarily the case elsewhere.) Before either form of cod can be prepared, each must be re-hydrated and, if necessary, rinsed free of salt. To do so, place the cod in a flat baking dish, deep enough to hold enough water to completely submerge the entire fish. Keep the cod in the water for at least 12 hours but no more than 2 days. Replace the water 3 times daily. You can speed up the process a bit by letting a slow, steady stream of water flow into the dish but not on to the cod or you might damage the fillet. You’ll know the fish is ready by the way it looks, feels, and smells.

Once the cod is ready, remove it from the water and place it on (paper) towels while you make the marinade. You do not want to allow the cod to completely dry out but do remove the surface moisture. In a small mixing bowl, add about 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs; 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley; 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary; 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (grated or diced); 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil; and pepper to taste. (Salt should not be needed and ingredient amounts may vary depending upon the size of the fillet.) Return the cod to the now-dry baking dish and cover with the marinade, coating it evenly on all sides. This is not a “true” breading, so, there’s no need to completely cover the fish. Use plastic wrap to cover the dish and set aside for a couple of hours. It may be necessary to refrigerate the cod, depending upon your kitchen’s temperature.

Pre-heat the grill when you’re ready to cook your cod. Clean the grilling basket and oil it liberally just prior to placing the cod in its center. Once secured, lay the basket on the grill and sprinkle a bit of olive oil over the fillet’s top side and close the grill’s lid. Lower the heat to med-high. Depending upon your grill’s temperature, how the basket rests on the grill plates, and the thickness of the fillet(s), baccalà will take from 8 to 11 minutes per side. Be sure to check it midway through the cooking of each side and be prepared to adjust cooking times, as required. Once you’ve flipped the basket over, sprinkle the fish’s “new” top side with the juice of a half-lemon. Continue grilling until done.

When cooked properly, cod will easily flake. Keep this is mind as you carefully remove the cod from the grilling basket.  Place on a serving platter and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

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Notes

As mentioned earlier, the marinade is not meant to be a breading that completely covers the fillet. Though it contains bread crumbs, there is no way that all of it will remain on the fish as it is grilled. Once the marinade has done its job, the bread crumbs will offer some protection for the fish, helping it to remain moist as it’s grilled.

Depending upon where you live, you may be able to purchase a piece of baccalà that is just about equal in size to the fillet I used in this recipe.  I have no such luck and must purchase a large piece of baccalà, probably around 18 inches (46 cm) long, that is the entire side of the fish, from the gill opening to its tail. On Christmas Eve, the entire piece can be cut up and cooked, as I showed you HERE. Any other time of the year, that piece of cod is far too big for me and I divvy it up for 3 different dishes. First of all, do not re-hydrate the cod until you’re ready to use that particular piece of fish. Even though dried, you’ll notice one side, the fillet section, that is thicker than any other part of the fish (shown in RED on the right). Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to remove that piece. This is the piece I used in today’s recipe. On the other side of the fish, is another, equally sized portion, though not as thick (GREEN). Remove that section and return it to the packaging. This piece will be used to make a salad and I’ll show you how in a future post. The remaining section BLUE), about a 10 inch (25 cm) “tail”, should be returned to the packaging and, once re-hydrated, can be baked or broiled. I’ll be showing you how to do that, too, at a later date. Properly sealed and kept dry, these 2 remaining pieces will keep for months although, if you enjoy baccalà like we do, you needn’t worry about it being around for weeks, much less months.

And for those of you keeping track, this is pretty much the same bread crumb mixture that was used in last week’s recipe, as well as a number of other Bartolini recipes. Guaranteed, it will be making at least one more appearance in the weeks ahead.

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In my rush to get last week’s entry posted, I failed to include anything about my visitors. For those not in the know, that previous Friday, Miss C and The Matriarch, of The Kitchen’s Garden fame, rode into town on a brisk, but sunny, Friday morning and left the very next morning, heavily laden with packages of every kind. It was a whirlwind tour of some of my favorite food haunts, topped off with a late lunch at a favorite Thai restaurant. They were, without a doubt, perfect guests, as we ran from store to store, aisle to aisle, letting me prattle on as if I was personally responsible for the contents of each. By any measure, it was a very good day, one that I hope we can repeat, weather and Farmy permitting.

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It’s déjà vu all over again … 

Easter is still several weeks away but it’s never too late to plan. Besides, if you like this bread as much as all who’ve baked it, you’ll need time to bake another loaf for the Holiday. Crescia al Formaggio is baked in the Bartolini homeland, Le Marche, every year at Easter. With over a cup of grated cheese in its dough, this bread not only tastes good but it fills your kitchen with a fantastic aroma while it’s in the oven. Believe me. This is one bread that is sure to please everyone seated at your dinner table. You can read my post by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Grilled Swordfish with Salsa Verde

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182 thoughts on “Grilled Salted Cod

  1. Excellent post, John! It made me smile to read that you used a basket because that’s how the family has always prepared bacalà, and then go on to use panko ;-) I’ve never prepared bacalà or stokvis (Dutch for stoccafisso, which literally means stick fish as the dried fish is like a stick) before, but I guess you’ve convinced me to try. I am worrried about flaking though, also fresh cod is always making it impossible for me to plate in one piece. I love the breadcrumb mixture — don’t be surprised when you see me using it for seafood in a post :-) Thanks again for sharing the family ‘jewels’!

    • You caught the Panko, eh, Stefan? :) Life is a series of compromises and, besides, Zia has converted to Panko now. When I visit, I always bring her enough to last until my next visit. That breading mixture is used again and again in our recipes. I never realized just how often until I started cataloguing the recipes.
      I must say, you could not have made Zia happier than when I told her that you used the family recipe as a basis for your ravioli during your welcoming dinner for Conor. She was both thrilled and amazed. I owe you one, Stefan. :)

      • Can you believe I’ve never used panko yet? This is something to experiment with. So far I’ve been stubbornly using homemade breadcrumbs only. Panko cannot be homemade as it is electrocuted bread dough — not something I’d like to try at home.
        I started to notice after a while that many of Biba Caggiano’s recipes follow the same patterns, for instance an abundant use of parsley. I am not surprised you have similar patterns in your family recipes.
        I’m really glad that the story of my dinner for Conor made Zia so happy! Like I said before, I am equally happy that you are sharing your ‘family jewels’ for all of us to enjoy.
        When I have the time, I will have to catch up on your older posts because there are probably some more gems in there from before I started following you.

        • You’ll find Panko are very similar to breadcrumbs made when you use a box grater to make your own. I normally don’t have bread handy to make my own breadcrumbs when I need them. When I do, I’ll gladly make my own. When I don’t — and that’s most of the time — I’ll use Panko.
          It’s not surprising that Italian cooks depend on certain elements for so many of their dishes. One of our noted Italian chefs makes the point that Italian cuisine is the cooking of Nonnas. Not being professionally trained, they didn’t have the exposure to all of the recipes a chef would have, so, they relied on a few “tricks”, again and again.
          I’m so glad to see that our family recipes are being used by you and others. The driving force for this blog was to make sure my family’s recipes were saved from oblivion. Thank you so much for “helping out.” :)

  2. We have a lot of salt cod here as well – morue salee or morue seche – but I haven’t cooked with it since I’ve been here. The French produce a wonderful confection called brandade, which is a mixture of cod, olive oil and pureed potatoes. That is something that I love and buy from a traiteur, as they make it better than I could ever hope. What sort of grill do you use? I’ve never heard of a grill with a lid – it looks brilliant.

    • I’ve heard of brandade and really want to try it. Problem is, when a group gets together to go to one of the Bistros, the last thing I think of ordering is brandade. Now that I can get salted cod whenever I want, I need to source a good recipe. I’ll figure it out!
      Most grills here are hooded now. My last was a fantastic covered charcoal grill but I had to replace it when I put in a wood deck over the cement it stood on. I now have a gas grill that sits on the porch outside my kitchen door. I grill all year round, in rain, snow, and sun. (I also have an electric smoker but it set the porch on fire. Luckily I caught it before any real damage was done. I don’t talk much about that smoker these days.) In all honesty, the gas grills will grill your foods well but they do not have that grilled flavor that only charcoal gives. I’m seriously considering reconfiguring my yard. If and when I do, you can bet there will be room for a charcoal grill and smoker.

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  4. Now that is a truly perfect dish and one that I will be making for Big Man when we get home. I have a kind of grill clamp thing that I can put fish inside so I think it would work well. No salt cod here int he UK but have found that smoked cod, although a slightly different taste, coems close in texture to baccala. Was so lealous of miss c and the matriarch running around Chicago with you – what a wonderful day you all had together!

    • Grazie mille, Tanya! There are some recipe that, when I write them, I wonder how you’ll react. So often, our recipes and experiences from the Old Days are so similar. I’m glad this one hit home with you. It’s quite a compliment knowing that you’ll make this dish once you get home. Zia will be thrilled. Even so, I wish I could find some smoked cod. That would be a great change of pace.
      I cannot tell you, Tanya, how much I enjoyed their visit. I love my city and enjoy showing it off. Normally, my tours for visitors involve all of the tourist sights. Being able to give a tour of my food haunts and spice shops was a real treat. And when the visitors are as nice as these 2 Ladies from the Farmy, well, it just couldn’t have been any better. :)

    • Thank you for commenting. I went years without knowing where to find salted cod. Now I’ve 3 places so I’m pretty much assured a year-round supply. We grill it, bake it in a sort of stew, bake it, and poach it to make a salad. I’ll share all of the recipes, sooner or later. :)

    • Thank you so much, Brandi. I like this basket. It has mesh-like sides that will hold fillets as well as whole fish securely. That makes a big difference when trying to flip it over.

  5. I do love the look of your salsa verde and if you are available for hire for food tours I’ll be on the next plane. I had no idea how to do cod like this. I didn’t even realise it had to be soaked – I thought it was air-dried xx

    • For hire? Never! It would be my pleasure, Charlie, to be tour guide, believe me.
      Whether just air-dried or salted & dried, the cod has to be re-hydrated before use. In Italy, there are some shops where it is sold from large water-filled tanks, already soaked and ready to be cooked. We haven’t nearly the demand for it here in Chicago to have it pre-soaked and ready to go. As for the salsa verde, it’s coming up next week. Stay tuned …

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  7. I love salt cod and found several Spanish and Portuguese shops selling it in pieces near Portobello Road – so that’s a definite recipe to try. I’ve got one for Brandada if you’d like a copy ;-)

    • We haven’t the demand for it here, MD. I’m lucky now to know of 3 places that stock it, year-round. I don’t mind soaking it one bit. I would love a recipe for Brandada, MD. Just send it to the email on my contact page when you get a chance. No need to rush. Thanks. I do appreciate it.

  8. John that really does look wonderful! I can’t believe that you can still get baccala this time of year. In our stores they really only carry it at CHRISTmas time. anyway that looks yummy!…m

    • Thanks, Maria. I, too, was surprised to discover that these shops stock baccalà year-round — but I’m not complaining. It is so much more “convenient” when you’re able to open a window or 2 when soaking a chunk of baccalà. ;)

  9. Ah, so that’s how you prepare dried and salted cod, which incidentally is known in Spain as bacalao. I’ve seen it in so many local shops, but never bought it as I really had no idea what to do with it. I know it’s quite a delicacy and not inexpensive either.

    Like Tanya, we also have a fish basket which we use on the BBQ, so it would be perfect for grilling the cod.

    Look forward to trying your recipe when we get home from our winter-time travels around Australia and New Zealand.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you’ll enjoy the cod when you get the chance to try it. Until then, Marianne, have a fantastic time Down Under. I’ve spent some time there and the people are wonderful and the country beautiful. Safe travels.

  10. I’ve seen salted cod several times in the store but until now, thanks to you, I had no idea how to prepare it. It makes sense to rehydrate it, does it taste salty? I can’t take too much salt these days and I suspect this dish might be over my limit, however much I would enjoy it. I’m very excited to see the swordfish preparation, I adore a firm fish like that.
    Your day with Miss C and The Matriarch sounded lovely. I was so envious as I read C’s post last week. One day I too will visit and hopefully you can give me the royal tour (or at the very least, a note about what not to miss!)
    It’s a disgusting snowy/rainy day in the big smoke today. Your post was a bright note on the ride in on the streetcar that smells like wet dog! Not looking forward to the ride home this evening!

    • I think you’re probably right about the salt content, Eva. You really cannot soak it for more than 2 days because the fillets may disintegrate. So, I don’t know if you’ll ever completely rid it of all of the salt. I like a bit of the salty taste so I’ll usually soak mine for about a day. You can use fresh/frozen cod in this recipe without a problem.
      Having Celi and The Matriarch here for the day was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my grocery stores and shops. We were in such a rush to get supplies, though, that there was no time for sight-seeing. Maybe next time …
      Although much of the storm has passed, it’s left a slushy mess in its wake. I feel for you and our commuters, too. Trying to navigate across the “rivers” at curbside is not fun. Good luck tonight.

  11. Oh dear me John, seems that list of deliciousness you are going to be making for me when I come and visit is getting v e r y l o n g …
    Maybe if we talk about it long enough, it will really happen! :-D Oh that would be awesome!
    Have a beautiful day. :-) Mandy xo

    • It would be awesome, Mandy. We should probably be sure to say things like, “When you come…” rather than, “If you come …” Maybe The Fates will hear us and set things into motion. :)

  12. I have never tried salted cod but see it in so many recipes. I am not a huge seafood fan but I am open to salted cod, I find it intriguing and I do like cod. You make it sound easy to prepare and make it look so good! Of course, I can’t say no to the marination and breading either. I don’t know where I can find some in Denver though. Next time I come to Chicago, I’ll be skipping Navy Pier and doing the food tour! Sound so much more fun.

    Nazneen
    PS: hope this isn’t a duplicate comment..I wrote one and it went poof! The problems of the new age and touchscreens!

    • Once you get it rinsed and re-hydrated, Nazneen, you can prepare salted cod just as you would fresh/frozen cod. Baccalà is very popular in the area of Italy that my family is from, so, using any cod but salted cod just wouldn’t be “right”.
      Chicago, like most major metropolitan cities here, has a wide variety of ethnic groups, most of which have their own grocery stores and shops. I’m very fortunate to live in an area where there are a number of these stores nearby. Come in for a visit. I’ll be happy to show you around. :)

    • Thanks! I’d debated devoting so many consecutive posts to preparing fish but the response has been overwhelmingly supportive. And they’ve made my fishmongers very happy. :)

  13. I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever tried salted cod, nor have I noticed it in the stores. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re ridiculously fish challenged here, but I’ll bet it’s around. Thinking on all of this makes me wonder: why salted cod over fresh? I know it preserves it for a long time, so I get why it came to be, but does it taste remarkably different from fresh cod other than salt? It must since you have to wait to rehydrate it properly. Your thorough instructions and lovely preparation make for a very tempting to try dish, John! And there’s that bread again that I didn’t try last year. Think I’m going to go and print out that recipe so it will be under my nose so to speak! Great post all around.

    • Thanks, Betsy. You’ll probably have the best luck searching for baccalà in ethnic groceries. Italian, Spanish, and Latino markets are more likely to carry it than most others, from my experience. As for why salted cod over fresh, there is a little bit of a salty taste to the fillets. Beyond that and speaking for my family, I think much of the attraction is that it was a reminder of the Old Country for Grandpa & Nonna. Baccalà and stoccafisso are very popular in their part of Italy.
      If you do find and try it, Betsy, I hope you’ll enjoy it like we all do. :)

  14. I’ve never tried salted cod like this before John, the only times I’ve eaten it have been Portugese style -very rich and in a sauce. Salted cod isn’t very common at home, but then I do live by the sea (rolls eyes!!), I think the marinade/crumb mixture would work superbly on frehs cod too!
    Oh and how wonderful you had visitors, now that would have been total fun!!

    • I would think that the Portuguese style of cooking baccalà is quite similar to one of the ways we prepare it, save a few spices and herbs. This bread crumb mixture is multi-purpose and can be used for a variety of fish, whether baked, broiled, or grilled.
      And, yes, hosting Miss C and The Matriarch was a whole lotta fun!

  15. I really enjoy cod in a number of dishes, fish tacos is a favorite that comes to mind, but I have never tried salted cod. Grilling is also a favorite cooking method for all sorts of fish and I really like the marinade you used.

  16. I also had a big smile about the “panko” use…. yeap, Traditional indeed! ;-)

    but Zia is a smart woman, panko rocks!

    I never thought of grilling salt cod, so that’s something new to consider – we used to have a basket like that, but after our move I don’t remember seeing it. Gremlins at work?

    • Amen to that, Sally! Zia does rock!
      The truth is, when bread crumbs were made back in the day, bread was grated, much like cheese, and the crumbs were larger, much like Panko, than those one might buy today.
      I had to hunt down that grilling basket. It had been ages since I last used it. If there are Gremlins at work, mine must be the good kind. (I hope.) :)

  17. Like some of the other commenters, the panko caught my attention, I had to reread. But hey, if it serves the purpose without altering the integrity of the dish and makes life easier in the kitchen why not? That’s what cooking is all about and what makes it fun.
    I use salted cod whenever it is available (usually around Christmas time in my area) but never grilled it. I do not own a grill but I imagine this recipe will be great broiled or baked.

    • Both, Zia and myself, like how light the Panko bread crumbs are compared to equal amounts of “normal” bread crumbs. And you are so right. In the end, it is all about what tastes good and can be prepared easily. Panko won this contest, hands down.
      Your, also, right that this recipe can be used to bake fish, as well. My family does all of the time.

  18. John, beside this being a great recipe in its own right, it was such a treat reading how you described the way baccala needs to be prepped: it brought back many memories of the way things were (and to some extent still are) done in Genoa, where both baccala and stoccafisso have always been big hits! It’s so nice that you are sharing these local traditions that go way back and that you are doing so with great accuracy.
    Hat’s off to you! :-)

    • Thank you, Stefano. All 6 of us kids have memories of baccalà, whether it was in its preparation or at the dinner table. No catalogue of our family’s recipes would be complete without mentioning baccalà and how it was served. I’ve shared 2 recipes so far, and there are 2 more to go.
      I’m glad that you enjoyed today’s post, Stefano, and thank you for the words of encouragement.

  19. Grill baskets really take much of the worry out of grilling fish, don’t they? No need to fear they’ll fall apart (well, at least not until you remove the fish from the basket!). I’ve never had grilled salt cod, but it looks like a spectacular recipe. I can get salt cod, but my usual supermarket stocks it only in those little wooden boxes, so I do have to make a (short) trip. Sounds like I really should be doing that, though. Looking forward to the future recipes using baccala! And this one looks just excellent – thanks.

    • I agree, John. Grill basket do work help a great deal. The one I have encloses the fish in a mesh-lik web, accommodating fish of varying widths with ease. As much as I’ve heard others speak of the boxed salted cod, I’ve never seen it. I buy it double bagged and it is either laying flat or semi-folded. The fish cannot be folded completely in half or it will tear. Either way, it is a big piece of fish for one person. That’s why I demonstrated how to divvy it up. And that’s why I’m sure there will be more baccalà recipes in the future. :)
      Thanks again, John, for the compliments.

  20. I have always wanted to try salted cod and now I will have to find it. I thought it was snowing in Chicago, so you grilled in the snow? Don’t catch cold. Also a great book on cod that my daughter read in college which means I did, too. “Cod, The Fish that Changed the World.” Quite interesting if you want the history of cod.

    • Oh, yes, I grill year-round. My grill is right outside my kitchen door, on a porch. It isn’t enclosed but it is covered. In the dead of Winter, it also subs as an extra deep freeze.
      Thank you so much for the book referral. I enjoy reading books like this and have added it to my Books wish list. :)

  21. You always have such interesting & unique ideas John. I love the grilling baskets for anything that might be flaky or fall apart on the grill & just love them. I have to say that close up photo of the final product is absolutely gorgeous! And you do tours?

    • Such a nice compliment to leave, Diane. Thank you.
      I don’t know what I was initially thinking when I planned to cook this salted cod directly on the grill. Thank heavens Zia prevailed and corrected my course! And all of my guests get a tour of Chicago, whether they like it or not! :)

  22. I love becoming more educated here. Like Betsy, I had not really thought about salted cod before but you certainly have won us all over with the beautiful marinade, expert preparation and instructions and the photos make me want to just dig in for a big bite. What a wonderful day you and C. sound like you had. Lucky woman to have you as her foodie guide. :)

    • Thank you so much, Geni. It’s really wonderful to see how well-received these old family recipes are. It greatly increases the odds that the recipes will continue to be used, just as was my original intent. And yes, it was quite a day with Celi and The Matriarch. Such a shame that Daisy and TonTon had previous commitments. Maybe next time … :)

  23. You are so good to us! John this sounds just this side of paradise to me. I’ve never seen nor tasted salted cod but have read and heard its praises sung and want so much to try it. We have a very good fish monger in Portland, and though I’ve never seen baccala there, perhaps if I ask they’ll be able to locate some. I appreciate how you’ve shown us to divvy up a larger piece just in case it comes down to sharing. And I love that your Zia steered you as she did…how priceless is it that you have her beside you, sharing all the acquired kitchen wisdom of the Bartolini’s?! What a gift!!

    • If your fishmonger is without, you can probably find salted cod at an Italian, Spanish, or Latino market, though your chances are much better around Christmas time.
      You are so right about how fortunate it is to have Zia’s counsel with these recipes. Not only will she help me to correct course but her advice with new recipes is priceless, suggesting spices and herbs based on the dishes we did make. How great is that?
      As always, Spree, thanks for your kind and encouraging words.

  24. John this grilled salted cod looks divine! Your technique is just lovely, and as I was reading this I thought how nice it would be to watch you prepare it. There are some simple, yet lovely steps that make this a work of art. So different from just placing a piece of fish on the grill! I can almost taste this. I am not sure about baccala, but I’m going to find out! And thanks for the reminder of the Easter bread. Time to get thinking spring and Easter…we do have a large family gathering on Easter Sunday and I’d love to have made this bread. I need to practice! :-)

    • Thank you so much, Debra. LA has such a large Latino population, I’m sure you’ll be able to find baccalà, though It may be easier to do so around Christmas. You can always use the breading on fresh/frozen cod, as well as any fish headed for the grill.
      This Easter bread has been made by a few of my commenters and all have loved it. Wait till you get the first whiffs of cheese-scented bread baking in your oven. It is wonderful. Yes, make a practice loaf, not that you’ll need to but so that you won’t have to wait until Easter to have some. :)

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  26. Yum. Nothing better than perfectly-cooked, panko-crumbed, flaked fish with lemon. I’ve never cooked with salted cod myself, but I’m keen to give it a try. Mouth-watering photography John, especially the extreme close-up!

    • Thanks for leaving such a nice compliment. I obsess about my photos and am very grateful when the photo gods smile upon me. :)
      I love salted cod but if you cannot find it, this breading can be used with just about any fish headed for the grill basket. :)

  27. I love it when a fish looks all moist and flaky, and yours has come out perfect. I have not big on cod, but this has given me a pause. My hubby loved grilled fish, and this seems like a perfect place to start. I have never used a grill basket before and hubby loves grill marks on his grilled food. Do you think grilling it covered for a while and then placing it directly on the grill will alter some of its taste?

    • Thank you for leaving such a nice comment. I use a gas grill and really miss the charcoal flavor of a “normal” grill. If your grill alters the flavor a might, I think it would only be in a good way. I’m going to repeat Zia’s caution to me, however, and remind you that cod is very flakey when fully cooked. It may not be an easy thing to get it off of the grill. A basket, though not perfect, is better. If he manages to do it, though, please let me know. I’d love to give it a try.

      • First, apologies for so many typos in my previous comment. I showed the recipe to my hubby, and we went out and bought a grill basket, lol! You are right about getting the flaky part off the grill. I grill Tilapia on a pan grill, and it a big chore to take it off, and then a bigger one to clean the grill itself. But yes, grilling on a charcoal is fabulous. We have a lovely grill that has both features, and I don’t remember ever using the gas side of it so far.
        I will let you know how this turns out.

  28. John, you forgot to mention how the stoccofisso stinks. :) Not in a bad way to me, but I’ve taken friends to the Italian deli who have been unable to stay in there because of the smell. I’ve never been game to try any of the salted fish, but your cooked fillet looks so tender and delicious, that I might have to rethink that. Beautiful Easter loaf too – going to check that out next!

    • Oh, I do know about the smell, Celia, and it is even worse with stoccafisso. I mentioned all of that in a prior post that included a story involving Mom, Grandpa, and some soaking stoccafisso. Click here and look at the Notes Section. This is one of our favorite stories from back at the old two-flat.
      You’re such a good bread baker. I hope this loaf passes your inspection. :)

    • That was kind of you to write, EllaDee. Thank you. As I’ve mentioned to others, this breading can be used on just about any kind of fish. So, if you cannot find baccalà, no problem. And Panko, though not what was used back in the day, certainly work here. In fact, I rarely use “regular” bread crumbs now.

  29. Hey John, I’m gonna have to get better at this blogging thing, reading your whole post on baccala is pretty humbling, the background so interesting and the recipe has to be delicious. I have too few posts on fish and it’s my favorite protein. My grandmother was from the Basque region and bacalao is a super important ingredient northern spanish kitchens, well, pretty much all over spain. I love this fish. thanks for writing about this!

    • Hello, Paul! I think you’ve got a great blog! It’s well-written and your photography is wonderful. You’re your own worst critic.
      With a Grandparent from Spain, you certainly know about baccalà. As soon as I read that your Grandmother was from the Basque region, I immediately thought “bacalao”. WIth her background and your S. American upbringing, I bet you know some delicious ways to prepare fish. I hope you do share some of the recipes. I’ll be first in line to read them.

  30. To me this is a fantastic post as it may rid me of a decades long preconception. I had a lovely Portuguese lady helping in the house for years and she must have brought over a dozen baccalao dishes in that time for us to try: none of the family liked :( ! But the dried baccalao is easily available here and your method sounds succulent and looks great: about time to try again. Yes, cod or ‘tursk’ in Estonian is a very common fish in Scandinavia, but from early childhood memories it was always used fresh, mostly making cod soup: served in the winter every few days. I also remember fried cutlets and rissoles, but not dried and salted. Must look up my Estonian cookery books. Don’t know I even put ‘tursk’ and the Iberian variant I had been given together until your post! Thanks teach :) !

    • John: had the chance for a quick look-see in my Finnish/Estonian cookery books! Heaps of simple cod recipes: baked, steamed, grilled and fried mostly. Always from fresh cod BUT almost every recipe tells one to put the cod steaks, fillets, whatever, in a saline solution of 1 litre water + 3 TB salt + 1 TB vinegar for 15-20 minutes! Pat dry and use. Supposedly better nose, better taste, firmer flesh but easier to flake! Getting closer to your baccalao :) !

      • I would never think to treat fresh cod with salt and vinegar, Eha. You’ve piqued my curiosity, though, and I have to give it a try. You certainly wouldn’t try this with salted cod, however. It already has enough salt and needs no more.
        In our part of Italy, Ancona is the provincial capital. In days gone by, it was a great shipping port and much of the Italian peninsula’s salted cod was unloaded on its docks. As a result, the area’s people have a soft spot for baccalà and stoccafisso.

    • I would have loved to try her bacalao. I enjoy trying the same food prepared by another ethnic group. There are always similarities but the seasoning will often take a dish in a different direction. I bet that soup was a great way to warm up on a cold Winter’s day and those rissoles must have been wonderful! Ever consider posting the recipes? :)

      • Am laughing, truly! Re: the salt/vinegar bath: can’t help what was in about four wellknown books [including the famous Beatrice Ojakangas] in two languages, can I? But then I don’t much cook in the style either, as you should know by now :) ! When I get the baccalao to try your recipe, it will be the first time I will have cooked cod! Did find two – three recipes which sounded rather interesting whilst ‘researching’: when my book editing and exams are over I may just write them out :D !

  31. A couple of questions, please, ChgoJohn… When the cod is covered with water and left to rehydrate, is it refrigerated? The two remaining cuts from the entire side of the fish, where do you store them? Refrig? Freezer? Other? Absolutely love being able to enlarge photos on your blog and see details close up.

    • Thanks, Kathleen, for your kind words. I’ve never refrigerated the cod while it was soaking and I don’t recall it ever being refrigerated during my youth. By changing the water every 8 or so hours, and being so salty, I doubt any bacteria could grow.
      I buy my salted cod, double-bagged in plastic. Once I cut it up, I’ll start soaking one piece and return the others to the bags. As long as they remain dry, they can remain that way for months.
      I hope I’ve addressed your concerns, Kathleen. Please feel free to ask if you’ve any more questions.

  32. Bonjourno John. I have never cooked salted cod fish before and really should have as look how beautiful flaky and wonderful this dish looks. I might have to wait to head back to the Americas to try this dish as in HK everything is usually still swimming. I quite like the idea of the panko bread crumb mixture and your little seafood grill contraption. I might just have to get one of those. Why do you have to torture us with your coming attractions, that pesto swordfish looks so delicious now I have to wait to read the recipe… I guess all good things come with time. Wishing you a super week. Chow, BAM

    • Buona notte, Bam! I think you’re right. Salted cod is a very European thing and, over here, is usually only available in ethnic markets. You can easily use the breading, though, for other fish, thus saving yourself some airfare. :)
      I like to post coming attractions because it keeps me on track. It is so less stressful knowing that I’ve the next post’s photos done and ready to be published.
      Thanks for always leaving such kind words and compliments, BAM.

  33. John, how did you know I was salivating cod? I love how this looks.., delicious! You are amazing with seafood. The picture above the notes is so delectable! I am hungry for this now :)
    Perfect John!

  34. That is really interesting! Salt cod is something I’ve never cooked (though I’ve loved salt cod hash cooked by Mainer friends and salt cod fritters at markets in France). And I’ve never even thought of grilling it. Bravo! (Oh, and I so enjoyed reading about your and Miss C’s visit, on both your sites. Watch out, though—we usually get to Chicago a couple of times a year and might have to call upon you too!)

    • I am surprised you’ve not cooked salted cod, Michelle. You Gourmandistanish … Gourmandistanites … Gourmandistanini … Gourmandistanians … are so accomplished that I would have thought you’d prepared it many times and ways. Well, then. I guess that means that your next visit to Chicago, you’ll be leaving with some baccalà. Consider it a gift from Bartolini Tours. Better bring an extra bag, though. You will not want to pack it with anything else. Trust me. :)

  35. It is just a matter of time until your food photos get picked up by Bon Appetit magazine. WOW.
    The bread, the fish, the asparagus. The whole post is wonderful and I feel guilty reading but not getting into the kitchen and actually making your detailed recipes. There is no way I could screw it up if I followed your instructions, John.

    Thanks for your excellent posts and you set a high standard for food bloggers around the globe!

    • Your comments are always so kind and supportive of my photos, Ruth. I do appreciate them. I try to write my recipes for beginner cooks, Ruth, and not for someone at your skill level. You should have no problem with any of them, to be sure. What you need is some time to make them. You’ve got quite a busy schedule to maintain. Not to worry. They’ll still be here when you’re available. :)

  36. Pingback: Guest Blogger’s Response to Yesterday’s Waiting for Spring Post | Ruth E Hendricks Photography

  37. Pingback: Grilled Salted Cod - Baccala alla Griglia | The greatness of Italian Food | Scoop.it

  38. Looks fantastic John and since I’m grill-less for the foreseeable future I thinking about unique ways to prepare this indoors. How about smoking it in a wok?? What say you??

    Oh reading you bit about cod coming from Scandinavia back in the day reminded me of one of our favorite food shows that I think you might enjoy. New Scandinavian Cooking: http://www.newscancook.com/ The host Andreas Viestad is fantastic.

    • Surely do hope you don’t mind other foodies benefitting :) ! My birth country being thereabouts I was most interested to read and am now on the subscriber list! Thank you :) ! Even if I DO cook Australian/Asian fusion mostly these days! Looks like a fabulous link . . .

    • Thanks, Jed. I checked out the website and was surprised to be familiar with the host. His television program was part of my Saturday afternoon cooking show line-up on PBS. He’s no longer on and I should do a search to see if some other station has picked it up.

      I’ve never tried indoor smoking but don’t see why it wouldn’t work, once the fish was properly rinsed and re-hydrated. You can save yourself the trouble and us fresh or frozen cod, too, Jed. In fact, if you like, get a fillet, lightly coat the bottom with our breading mixture and put in on a lightly greased baking sheet. Place a nice coating of the breading on top and bake in a 375˚ oven until done. There’s more than one way to cook baccalà! ;)

  39. Salted cod is very popular here too, where it’s used to make brandade, to spread on toasts, or eaten with aioli. And once in Catalunya I ate it in a salad with orange slices and black olives – so delicious that we’ve made it at home several times since. I wouldn’t have thought of grilling it like this – it sounds wonderful!

    • I’ve heard of brandade and Roger mentioned it earlier. MadDog has offered to send me a recipe for brandada. I’m more than willing to give it a try. I’ll be featuring my family’s baccalà salad in a future post and although there’s lemon in the dressing, there aren’t any oranges slices. I certainly hope you’ll share your recipe sometime. It’s the type of dish I love to prepare and use to surprise Zia when I visit. Wait until I tell her, “It’s from Spain by way of France.” :)

  40. What a delicious photo. Drool is pooling in my mouth as I type! This makes me even more excited to find a recipe for bakaliaros with skordalia! I must say, I envy your gas grill but having grown up in the Midwest, I cannot give up my charcoal Weber. It’s not convenient but that unhealthy smoke really does infuse things with flavor, no? Spooky to hear about your near miss with the electric smoker!

    • Thanks and I hope yours is a water-proof keyboard. :)
      A charcoal grill is what barbecuing is all about. I loved my Weber but had to give it up when I covered the cement patio with a deck. I’d used that smoker, an electric, countless times with never a problem. Luckily, I happened to glance outside and saw it in flames. Needless to say, it’s gone now and I won’t be replacing it. ((sigh))

  41. I’ve never used a grill basket before, but it looks perfect for this fish. Whenever we have family get-togethers, we always try dishes we’ve never had before – we all get into the act. This would be perfect to try, especially with your fab instructions.

    • I love this fish basket although, like Sally mentioned above, it’s not the easiest thing to clean. It’s mesh-like sides really do hold the fish in place very well. If you do plan on preparing baccalà for a family function, as we often did, be sure to start soaking it 2 days before. Never having had it before, you’ll want to get as much salt rinsed out of it as possible. A 2 day soak will be needed. I happen to like a little bit of a salt taste, so, I soak it a little less than that. Once you’ve fixed it and know what to expect, you can decide whether you’d like more salt the next time. Better to need salt than to have too much. :)

  42. Well as you know I have never tasted salted cod, and last year i read your recipe for it and meant to do it then. You eat so well. Every time I come over i am surprised at the depth and breadth of your preparation and research. What a lovely meal. And what a lovely collection of commenters you have, I do enjoy reading all the repartee too!! have a great evening. Once i feed the lambs i will be off yo bed, i have no trouble sleeping ! c

    • I knew it! When we were shopping at the Italian market, while you were at the meat counter, I bought the piece of salted cod I used in this recipe. I showed it to The Matriarch and explained what it was and how it needed to be soaked. I meant to show it to you but when you finished at the counter, we were off to the deli/cheese counter and I forgot. Sorry. Next time, for sure.
      I consider myself very fortunate to have so many interesting people following and commenting here. And Zia gets such a kick when I mention the country where this person or that one is from. This is something neither of us ever expected.
      Sorry I neglected to mention your visit last week. I wrote the paragraph and forgot to add it to the post. By the time I noticed, the post was published and people had already commented. I did remember it this week. Better late than never, I guess.
      I’ll be heading to the market tomorrow. I need a cannoli. :)

    • Thank you so much. The breading returns in 2 weeks and I’ve not decided whether it will come again before Lent ends or after Easter. It depends on what’s new at the fishmonger. :)

    • Thank you, my Friend. For centuries, this was the only way inland peoples got a taste of the sea. Now, there is such an availability of seafood everywhere, fewer and fewer people are preparing salted cod. It’s a shame because its flavor is unusual and worth the effort to prepare it.

    • You guys have such creativity and skill in the kitchen, I’d love to see what you’d do with some salted cod. I would definitely give your recipe(s) a try. Do you think you could fine it where you live, though? That’s the $64,000.00 question.

  43. Hi, John–I’ve been meaning to comment on this for several days. Jody and I love salt cod, and despite living near Boston I have to say that I find the flavor of salted far more interesting than that of fresh. Your grilling approach interests me, something to file away for the days when there’s not two feet of snow on the front porch. Most of our salt cod goes to brandade (you can find our recipe here: http://wp.me/p1t5xh-1ce), and it’s one of those can’t-live-without selections when playing what-ten-foods-would-you-take-to-the-desert-island? I wish we could exchange tastes, since we tend to soak ours for a considerably shorter time than yours. Really interesting post. ken

    • Thank you so much, Ken. Another blogging buddy, MadDog, sent me a recipe for brandida and I’m anxious to give it a try. Now that you’ve reminded me of your recipe, I’ll be making them both. I just pinned your recipe (again?) so I’ll know where it is when I need it. I, too, really enjoy salted cod and look forward to learning new ways to prepare it. Funny that you mentioned the length of time needed to prepare the fillets. I used to soak it for 2 days, no more no less, each and every time I cooked it — which wasn’t that often at all. Now, I’ve got a steady supply of salted cod and prepare it much more frequently. My soaking times have been cut in half. By the time I make both brandades, I might be down to 12 hours. :)

  44. Ooh, yum! You can never get enough seafood :) This looks fantastic! I have never cooked any kind of fish (what is wrong with me) but this was an excellent post for some tips. Thank you!

    • Never cooked fish? We have to do something about that. I’ve shared a few recipes, none more difficult than this one. On the right of each post is a label that says “Seafood (Frutti de Mare)”. Click on it and you’ll see all of the seafood recipes I’ve shared. You’ll be cooking fish like a pro in no time!
      Thanks for the visit and taking the time to comment. Don’t be a stranger!

  45. Lovely post, John. I particularly appreciate the helpful ‘how to use your baccala’ diagram. For whatever reason, your posts also have not been showing up in my inbox — the last I got was sugo con carne. Damn you, WordPress. I will attempt to rectify this.

    • Thank you, Susan. If you’re not familiar with salted cod, seeing a “whole” one for the first time can be rather daunting. I hoped to make it more accessible by showing how easily it can be divided.
      Sorry you’re having problems getting notifications. This problem seems to make the rounds and, apparently, it’s your turn. Some have found that by unsubscribing and subscribing to the affected blog(s), notifications resume. I hope this helps. Good luck!

    • I hope you’ll like the salsa verde, Lilly Sue. It went very well with the swordfish and can b easily adjusted to suit your own tastes. Stay tuned … :)

  46. Hi, John. Lovely recipe and nice story, as always. I like cod but have never in all my years tried salt cod, other than Ackee when we were in Jamaica. It’s not something you find regularly in DFW. I may have to find some and give this recipe a try. It sounds very tasty.

    • Thanks, Richard, for leaving such nice compliment. Never having been to Jamaica, I needed to google Ackee. It certainly is different from any of the preparations I know but I would be willing to give it a try. I’m sure you’d enjoy salted cod, Richard and, with your skills in the kitchen, you’d have no trouble developing your own ways of preparing it. And I’ll be waiting here to try them too. :)

  47. John, such a great post! My mother is the only fish eater in the family that likes baccala’. She adores it. The way you described the difference between baccala’ and stoccafisso is great: simple yet exhaustive. Your cooking and “preservation” tips are precious as well. This is exactly how a cooking post should be like: cheerful, enjoyable and informative.

  48. I’ve seen salted cod in the Italian market but have never tried it. Thank you for making an ingredient that looks intimidating become accessible through an easy and delicious preparation!

  49. I love your posts and I’ve missed you! You bring out the extended family for all of us, especially those of us who live far from those we love. I’ve never cooked salted cod before. Back in Maine we aways used fresh.

    • Thank you, Maureen, for leaving such a nice compliment. Funny thing. I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to subscribe to your site but could not do it from your blog’s Home page. Just a few days ago, I subscribed using the Admin page for editing the blogs I follow. It allowed me to supply your blog’s URL. Problem solved! Now you’re stuck with me! :)

  50. What an exciting post to come home to! I can’t believe you met c and the Matriarch from the Farmy!! How wonderful to get the chance to meet up with fellow bloggers, that doesn’t happen every day, now does it? I would love to know what she purchased, I’m off to visit her blog as soon as I leave here:) So, this salted cod, or baccala, where in the grocery would you find it since it is dried? And once you’ve opened the package and resealed, does it get refrigerated or just in the pantry? This is something I’ve never made, I’ve only ever had fresh cod (like Betsy), but I can imagine those panko crumbs would be fantastic. I’m a big fan of panko over bread crumbs in almost all dishes now. So.. if I’m ever in Chicago.. I’d love the same tour:D

    • Welcome home, Barb!
      I buy baccalà from ethnic markets, 2 Italian and 1 Greek. The Italian markets keep it, in stacks, in front of or alongside of their fresh fish counter. It’s not hard to miss, looking like shirts that have been passed through a ringer and double-bagged. The Greek market has the same product but they keep it refrigerated, in the cooler where they sell smoked salmon, pickled herring, and smoked fish. I normally buy from the Italian markets because it is easier to store. I don’t have to tie up refrigerator space with a hunk of salted fish, although I do have Max to contend with. :)
      Having 2 such esteemed visitors from the Farmy was a real blast! You and I are much alike, Barb, in that we both love our cities. You can well imagine, then, what a treat it was for me to show them around, as it would be should you visit. As for the tour, though, I cannot guarantee the kind of tour you’ll receive. Each Bartolini Tour is designed specifically with that particular guest in mind. We take into account the Season, the month, the weather, and stars to determine which Chicago to share. Not to worry. All of our tours are guaranteed. :)

    • Oh, but it is soo good like that. I’m still not accustmed to being able to purchase it year-round. I’ll settle down, eventually but, for now, I’m really enjoying having it more than once a year. Yay!

  51. Pingback: Smoked Cod & Butterbean Stew | Chica Andaluza

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  53. Pingback: Broiled Cod alla Romagnola (Grigliata di Pesce alla Romagnola) | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  54. It always fascinates me when I come across similarities in food from different countries. Salted cod here is called Bacaliaros and traditionally it’s eaten on the 25th of March (a religious holiday). It’s one of the few days during Lent when you are allowed fish! Greeks bread it, deep fry it and eat it with a garlic dip called Skordalia. I *must* schedule fish into next week’s meal plan!

    • There are do many similarities between Greek and Italian cuisines. The spices and herbs may be a little different but the main ingredients are often the same with very smilar names. I hope you do fix bacaliaros and, if it’s not too much trouble, could you post the recipe? Παρακαλώ. :)

  55. Pingback: Salted Cod Salad | from the Bartolini kitchens

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