Baccalà Inspired Pacific Cod Stew
Baccalà Inspired Pacific Cod Stew is an adaptation of the classic Italian salted cod dish using our flash frozen pacific cod, tomatoes, olives and served as a stew.
Baccalà is a quintessential Italian salt cod dish.
What is Salt Cod?
Back before refrigeration and such, salt was pretty much the only method of food preservation. Fresh caught cod would have been broken down, salted, and dried for out of season eating.
I suppose one could simply munch on salted cod, but I suspect doing so would result in a rather salty experience (sorry, had to go there).
To avoid the over-salination of the taste buds, the salted cod should be soaked for at least a day in water to rid it of as much salt as possible. The water should be changed several times as well. Of course, salt will have permeated the flesh of fish, but for the most part its fresh water soak removes a great deal.
Then the cooking begins.
What is Baccalà?
Well, that’s a great question and it depends on which Italian you’re asking. After the initial response of salt cod, the answers you’ll receive will be varied.
It can be a simple meaty dish or a stew. I opted to go for a stew. I suppose I just felt stew-ish when it came time to make it. So glad I did.
Baccalà, outside the salted cod, is a lovely rich dish with tomatoes, olives, carrots, onion, celery, and fresh herbs and spices. When done, it’s thick and lovely.
When making this, I used chicken broth, but fish stock can be used. Fish stock has a tendency to overpower dishes and I wanted all the elements of this dish to shine through, including the Pacific cod without the fish stock becoming overbearing. But ultimately, the choice is yours.
Baccalà Inspired Pacific Cod Stew
- 4 portions pacific cod; seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ribs celery; diced
- ½ cup onion; diced
- 2 carrots; diced
- 4 cloves garlic; minced/grated
- 2 russets; large and petite diced
- 1 lb. fresh tomatoes; chopped (or 28 oz. can whole tomatoes)
- ½ cup pitted kalamata or green olives (3 oz.); drained
- ½ cup white wine (sauvignon blanc)
- 1 lemon juiced (3 tbsp.)
- 8 sprigs fresh oregano (1½ tsp. dried)
- ¼ tsp. salt; to taste +/-
- ½ tsp. black pepper; to taste +/-
- ⅔ cup chicken broth or fish stock
- Open the cod portions, pat dry, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Heat a large pot, Dutch oven, or enameled French oven over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add the olive oil and then the celery, onions, and carrots; cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic; mix in well.
- Add both potatoes, cook for one minute.
- Add the tomatoes (and all liquid); cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the olives; mix well.
- Slowly pour in the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan, pulling up any browned/stuck on bits.
- Add the herbs, salt, pepper, lemon, and broth; stir well.
- Once at a high simmer, reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste for seasoning, adjust according to personal tastes.
- Once the potatoes are nearly fork tender, with approximately 5 minutes from being cooked, gently add the cod portion to the stew, submerging them in the pot.
- The fish will cook in 4-8 minutes, depending on how hot the liquid is and how thick the portions are.
- Stop cooking when an instant read thermometer reaches 140°F
- Serve and enjoy.