(“ Baccala’ in Bianco” - “Baccala’’nbrancu”)

 

 

Baccala’, the dried salted cod fish and the stockfish, the dried not salted cod fish are two staple foods brought from the Normans to Sicily that became popular for its taste and because it is easy to preserve. In fact baccala’ and stockfish became popular in many tropical and sub-tropical countries because it was not too expensive, could be easily stored and transported inland where fish were rarely eaten.
In Palermo baccala’ is available in special stores, thebaccalai, selling dry or soaked baccala’ and pesce stocco, the stockfish and if I remember correctly they also carried herrings, salted fish, capers and olives displayed in big barrels. Outside the baccalaio the air was filled with the screams of the vendor peddling herbs, advertising the very fresh garlic, parsley and basil and yelling with his hoarse voice: agghia, pitrusinu e basilico’, ch’e’ beddu friscu. 
Baccala’ was considered an economical staple food, at present it has become expensive and considered a luxurious and gourmand dish. The preparation requires a few days because the dry cod or the stockfish has to be soaked a few days ahead, but the final cooking is simple, it is not a complicated dish and it is truly a gourmand delicacy.
Baccala’, the dry cod is sold with bone and skin on or boneless and without the skin. Most prefer the boneless, because to take out the bone and remove the skin is not an easy job.

  

  Baccala' Garlic & Oil

 

SERVES 6 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. baccala’, dried salted cod fish
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 3 lemons
  • ½ cup of parsley finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

PREPARATION 

Place the baccala’ in a 6 quart sauce pot with about 4 quarts of cold water. Soak for 3 nights, changing the water every 12 hours. 

 

Squeeze 2 lemons and set on the side the juice and 1 squeezed lemon that will be used to cook the baccala’.
In a small bowl whisk together the oil, the lemon juice, the garlic and parsley. Secretly I used to add 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard. Pepper to taste and small pinch of salt. Prepared it at least 1 hour before serving, to build up aroma.

Drain the baccala’ and cut it into chunks about 2 X 3 inches, which will be easy to do once it has been soaked.
Over high heat, set a 6 quart sauce pot with 2 quarts of water, the squeezed lemon and the bay leaf. When water begins to boil, lower the heat, place the baccala’ in it and simmer very gently for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the baccala’ flakes easily. 
Don’t overcook it because it becomes stoppagghiuso  (meaning like a rope made with stubbles), hard and dry. Taste for salt and add if needed.
Using a slotted spoon place the baccala’ in a serving dish and set on the side in a warm place. Reserve some of the cooking water.

 

The Serving 
It can be served warm or at room temperature. 
Whisk 2 tablespoons of the cooking water with the dressing and pour on top of baccala’.
Cut 1 lemon into 6 wedges and place around the serving dish.
Serve with boiled potato, extra olive oil, crushed red pepper and fresh bread.