Bakalaj (also known as baccala in Italian) is a traditional dish from Istria in Croatia, near the border of Italy. It is traditionally served at Easter and Christmas in Istria, so makes a great Good Friday dish. You need to soak the cod for three days, changing the water daily. So if you are doing this as a special occasion dish, remember to start several days in advance. In Jen’s husband’s family, they serve it with anchovy pasta, and we have included a link to that recipe below.
BACCALA / BAKALAJ
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 3–4 days
Serves: 10 (it is really rich so you don’t have a lot of it)
- 750g / 1½ lb of salted cod fillet (available in the deli in the fridge – not the dried version which is hanging in the deli)
- 2 potatoes, peeled and halved
- 100–200ml / ⅓ to ⅔ cup of olive oil
- 2–3 cloves of garlic, finely grated
- 5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- extra salt if required
- baguette or served with a pasta dish as an accompaniment
- Three days before planning to serve the dish, rinse the cod in cold water to remove excess salt, then place in a bowl of fresh water in the refrigerator.
- Change the water each day and place back in the refrigerator.
- On the day you plan to eat it, remove the skin and bones from the cod, then place the fish in a saucepan with the potatoes. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.
- Drain well.
- Using a mortar and pestle, mix into a paste in batches, adding a little olive oil and some garlic as you work with the mixture.
- Transfer to a bowl, adjust the seasoning and add the chopped parsley.
- Serve at room temperature on sliced baguette as a starter or as an accompaniment to the anchovy pasta and a green salad. The vinegar in a salad cuts through the richness of the fish.
This dish is quite rich, so only serve in small amounts.