Salt Cod: Two Questions
Just bought me a couple pounds of salt cod from a local deli. Two questions...
Anyone have a croquette recipe they can recommend? Bonus points for a recipe that transports me back to the Iberian Peninsula. Web searches turned up hundres of variations.
Since I don't plan on using all of this right away, how should I store it? It's a huge filet that I pulled out of a box with many others. Right now it's in the pastic bag that I brought it home in.
Keep in the bag in the fridge.
Soak in cold water overnite, or all day,
DO NOT change water more than once.
Salt cod today is preserved with chemiclas as well as salt. The chemiclas take the place of teh salt and salt cod is nowhere NEAR as salty as it used to be. Unless you have a good source...
Soak it, mash it with cooked potatoes and some herbs.
It will forever taste like cardboard to me.
Are you sure in a bag in the fridge is okay? When I bought it at the deli, I grabbed a filet out of a full wooden box that appeared to be the box that it was shipped and stored in. So I'm wondering if room temperature and/or letting it breath would be better.
Thanks for the tips on soaking. I'll definitely monitor it during the process to avoid oversaltedness or oversoaking.
Both... sort of. I'm soaking about 1/3 of it now, but didn't want to use all of it at once. So I was just wondering how I should store the other 2/3 of it for a week or two before I get around to preparing it.
I put it in a paper bag in my cupboard. I'll try to remember to report back on how it goes.
If you have been to Spain or Portugal, then you may know that that bacalao/bacalhao is traditionally hung in the open until you are ready use it. Depending on your pantry or kitchen, and your tolerance for smelly home decor, you might try that. I would definitely NOT hang bacalao in a closet with clothing, however, unless you would like to have your neighborhood cats follow you everywhere for months.
My general advice: the sooner you use your cod, the better. Even if it won't spoil, it won't improve with age.
Contrary to the suggestion below, I would definitely change the soaking water more than once. Soak it at least one day, changing the water every six to eight hours. I suggest soaking it in the refrigerator, too.
Here's a loose, annotated translation of a recipe from "Cocina Tradicionál Española." Measures are rough conversions from metric, but should work.
Croquetas de Bacalao
Time: 60 minutes (not including soaking time, obviously)
7 - 8 oz. dried salt cod
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp butter
4 cups milk, warmed
Bread crumbs (1 cup?)
Oil for deep frying
Salt, if necessary
1. Soak the salt cod overnight, changing the water frequently.
2. When ready, clean the cod fillet to remove bones, skin, etc. Shred finely. (My note: Let the cod dry on paper towels when you are done shredding/chopping.)
3. Melt the butter in a pan on the stove, sprinkle in the flour, and toast the flour a few minutes, stirring or whisking constantly. (My note: this roux should be no darker than a very light brown when done.) Add the warm milk, little by little, slowly whisking, constantly, until it is all incorporated.
4. Reduce the heat and let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes. (My note: you are making a bechamel sauce, and that is the finished consistency you want.) Before it is done cooking, add the shredded cod, which should be quite dry.
5. Turn the mixture into a flat container (a gratin pan or jelly roll pan) and place in refrigerator until completely cool.
6. Heat the frying oil. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Place the bread crumbs in bowl or plate.
7. Take the cooled cod/bechamel and form croquettes with your hands. (My note: they should be about two inches long and an inch thick.) Dip each croquette in the beaten egg mixture, then roll it in the breadcrumbs.
8. Fry the croquettes in very hot oil until golden brown. Serve immediately.
I hope this helps. ¡Buen provecho!
While I have used the recipe and not cooked the cod separately, I also have used a variation that includes cooking the shredded or minced cod with onion and garlic before adding it to the bechamel. Either way will work. The fish will cook when you add it to the hot sauce in any event, and I think the choice depends on the flavor you are aiming for in the finished product.
Nick, I've linked a website that has wonderful Portuguese recipes (several using bacalhau such as codfish cakes) to help you use up your stash. I personally can't vouch for any of the recipes, but instructions are very clear. Recipes discuss the soaking issue; however, I don't know much about storing. Good luck!