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How to Desalt & Rehydrate Salt Cod Fish Bacalhau and Buying Guide

Ahhh, the king of the Portuguese table need not be a mystery! Many of you have written to me to say you feel intimidated when you want to make a bacalhau recipe because you are not confident in the desalting process. Well, worry no more. It is super easy and I will tell you step-by-step how to do it properly.

Using salt cod does require planning ahead, as the fish needs to be desalted before using in recipes. How long that process takes really depends on the thickness of the fish and can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.


I do not think there is anything more Portuguese than Bacalhau. It is truly my favourite food. The salt cure process makes its texture and taste alter it to celestial heights. Known in Portugal as, the “meat of the poor,” or

“faithful friend” (fiel amigo), one that people could always count on. Today the price is no longer considered the meat of the poor, however. It is now considered a luxury in many households. It is said that there are over 365 different recipes for it, one for each day of the year, heaven :) for me, but many say1000's of recipes exist.

Bacalhau, Gadus Morhua, also known as Atlantic cod, is found in the Atlantic ocean. In Portugal, it is sourced primarily from Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands in Denmark. The best flavour comes from cod that has cured a minimum of 4 months and up to 9 months for superior maturation. It has a distinctive pale yellow colour and a delicate texture that flakes into huge pieces with a fork. The flavour is exquisite, mature and delicious.

In Portugal, there are hundreds of recipes for salt cod, a handful of which are cult classics. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be bacalhau. I hope my guide will make you feel less intimidated and that I have somewhat demystified the process.

I have also cured my own cod at home when sourcing it online was impossible here in the UK.

It is a half-cure (meia cura), meaning the maturation and drying isn't carried out fully, but it still produces a gorgeous distinct flavour and texture change.

Check it out if you're feeling adventurous. Homemade Salt Cod (Bacalhau) ❦ Bacalhau de Meia Cura em Casa