Today's blog post is in direct response to my followers who've said they can't seem to find salt cod near them. This can be incredibly frustrating. Although you can find it online and buy it in major cities like London, it just isn't available at your local supermarket. To be completly honest, my local source has the worst quality salt cod on the planet at a riduculous price of £18 a kilo! I find it extortionate really, as in this day in age, importation of salt cod doesn't demand this steep price.
So, not wanting to make that 40 minute journey into London and guess at the quality of the cod I'll come across, I have recently started curing my own fresh cod at home. Please don't be intimidated! Remember, Portuguese sailors were doing this for centuries before modern refrigeration helped the process along. Curing the cod myself lets me control the quality and buy just loins, skinless and boneless. I get less waste as I rarely use the tail and sides. It is fantastic! Try it and let me know how it turns out. XOXO
Homemade Salt Cod (Bacalhau)
Plan ahead as you need a minimum of 3* days before it is ready to use (half cured) or up to 2 weeks fully dry cured.
This recipe has no measurements and you will need:
Cod fillets, thick loins are best
Kosher** salt or fine sea salt as needed to bury fish
(I used almost a kilo for 4 loins)
Shallow glass or plastic (BPA) free container
Start with as much cod as you want to cure. I usually allow one thick loin per person.
1. Rinse the cod loins in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Spread a thin layer of salt on the bottom of the container, making sure entire bottom is covered. Give it a good inch depth.
3. Place cod loins on salt side by side but not touching.
4. Cover the cod completely with more salt, bury it! Make sure none of the cod peaks through the salt.
5. Cover the container with cling film or container's lid if it has one, and place in refrigerator for 48 hours.
6. After 48 hours, remove salt cod from salt and rinse to remove excess salt. Dry very well with paper towels.
7. Wrap the salt cod individually in muslim/cheese cloth and place in refrigerator on a rack above a plate or container to catch water as salt cod drys.
8. Leave it to dry in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. If you are worried about any odour, just place an open box of baking soda in your fridge. It will absorb all the odor.
9. AFTER 2 WEEKS, IMPORTANT! Salt cod must be rehydrated before you cook it. To do this just place it in cold water in your fridge for 24 hours and change the water 3 times. After that it's ready to use just as you would fresh cod. At this stage, you could also freeze it for later use. Wrap tightly in double aluminium foil and freeze for up to 6 months.
** Kosher salt, is salt that is non-iodized (no added iodine), you also want to avoid anti caking agents if possible. I can't comment on all supermarket brands, so you will have to check the labels yourself to see if they are suitable.
*After the salting process of 48 hours you can rehydrate the salt cod in water for 24 hours after which you could use it as fresh. This of course is skipping the 2 week drying stage. The fish will still have a different texture and distinctive salt cod flavour, only milder. Hence it is called a half cure. The cod will have a gorgeous texture and be bright white in colour.
This is the stage of curing I use to make Bacalhau à Brás, a delicious Portuguese dish of sautéed onion, salt cod and fried shoestring potatoes, all lovingly immersed in an egg sauce with parsley and black olives.