This is one of Don’s favorite foods. There is hardly a visit to the Nîmes market where we don’t pick up a luscious thick filet of morue desalée, the French name for salt cod that has already been soaked and is ready to cook. Salt cod, known as bacalao in Spanish or baccalà in Italian, is a common staple with long history for many cultures around the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
For centuries salting and drying the northern fished cod was a cheap and practical way to preserve and ship the abundant fish to southern countries. As such it is found in a variety of traditional recipes and can still be bought at many Mediterranean shops where it is sold in a variety of forms, from tiny dry morsels to thick beautiful filets. In the US the latter is much harder to find.
But getting back to Don and his salt cod, while he has tried a number of various recipes over the years the one he keeps going back to is this simple preparation. The fish has a firmer texture than fresh fish and somewhat salty flavor, paired with a homemade aioli (garlic mayonnaise) c’est magique! Complete the meal with boiled potatoes and a crisp green salad or some nice green beans.
Salt cod, presoaked (about 6 to 8 oz per person)
Olive oil for browning the fish
Homemade or purchased aioli (can be bought in French fish markets)
Preheat the oven to 400°.
In a sauté pan that can also go into the oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the cod filets for about 2 minutes on each side. When lightly brown, finish the filets in the oven, about 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness. Filet should flake when done.
It’s that easy.