Bacalao (salted cod) red stew | Brudet od Bakalara

Ah, salted cod. I remember various Christmas Eve’s where this dish and other fish dishes would be served. The other dishes were ok, but the bakalar was always special because that was the only time throughout the year that we had it, so it was always a kind of wow moment. Even if at the time I didn’t think it tasted too good. Now my tastes have changed.

Salted cod is eaten all around Christian European countries like Italy, Portugal, Spain, all the Nordic countries and then moved over to South America. (Oh, and Croatia!) It was also eaten by Catholic clergy as a kind of cleansing meal before these big feast days of Easter and Christmas.

The cod is caught, heavily salted and dried which you can buy as a whole fish or shredded in the freezer section of your deli or fish market. Regardless of whether you buy a whole fish or shredded you will need to soak it in water for atleast 48 hours to get the salt out (and funnily enough you add salt back into the dish when you’re cooking). I loved using the shredded version as the bones have all been picked out, so it saves an incredible amount of time, and takes away the fear when eating (no one wants to choke on a cod bone).

This is the first in a series of three bakalar recipes. From one fish, or a one kilogram packet of frozen fish you can make all these recipes and they serve four comfortably. And you have six months to prepare for Christmas 2020. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

300 grams salted cod

100 mls olive oil

150 grams of brown onion, cut into half moons

100 mls white wine (one that you would drink)

400 mls tomato passata

600 grams potato, peeled and cut into 1cm thick slices

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Place the salted cod pieces into a large bowl of cold water, cover with cling wrap and leave it out or put in the fridge for 48 hours. During this 48 hours, change the water atleast three times. If you’re using a whole fish you can cut in half and use a clean bucket for soaking. After the 48 hours is up, you will need to remove all the bones, the skin and shred the fish into 2 centimetre chunks.
  2. Once your 48 hours is up, add one litre of cold water into a saucepan, add the watered-down salted cod and bring up to a boil. Once the water hits a boil, cook for 10 minutes. Drain the cod and set aside.
  3. In a large shallow saucepan, add the oil and let it get hot then add the onion.
  4. Once the onion has taken on a golden colour, add the drained cod, and pour in the white wine, the tomato passata. Bring it to a simmer and then add the potato. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once the potato is cooked through, the brudet is ready. This should take about 30 minutes. Test the potato before serving and serve hot. Serving note: I did serve this with bread because I love sopping up the sauce, but if you’re happy with the starch in the potatoes then no need for any bread. Enjoy!

Let me know if you tried this super fish dish and what you thought?

Dobar Tek! Zivjeli! (Bon Appetit! Cheers and let’s live!)

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