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How long does salt cod last after soaking?

  • c
  • 7

I've rinsed and soaked some salt cod that I was going to cook last weekend (not this past weekend, the weekend before). It's been in the fridge since then, and I haven't had a chance to cook it. How do I tell if it's still good?

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  1. I suppose I could say, "Try it, and let us know what happens." If we don't hear back, then we know that 10 days is too long. Or I could suggest you smell it, but salt cod starts off with a pretty distinctive odor, and I am not sure you can tell freshness from that.

    As you probably know, salt cod/bacalao is very long-lived when it remains dry and salted. When you soak it, you re-hydrate the fish and "bring it back to life." I have seen recipes that suggest soaking salt cod for three days (when a very mild flavor is needed), and some people (not I) say that salt cod should be soaked at room temperature. So, if it were this past weekend that you had started the soaking, I would say, "Go for it."

    I think that 10 days might be pushing the safety envelope, however. I wouldn't use fish (or chicken or beef) that had been defrosted and sitting in the refrigerator that long. But maybe I am overly sensitive to these things. I hate to think of a codfish having given its life in vain, but I would vote that you not take the chance on this one. It could be seeking revenge, you know.

    1. j
      Joe Fensterblaugh

      Have to concur with Kirk. 10+ days mighty dicey, I'd start fresh. Can't really imagine eating any fish that's been in my refer beyond 2-3 days. Out of curiosity, where do you purchase your salt cod? I've had great results with the Canadian cod from the Spanish shop down in Lomita/Harbor City. Costs half as much as the stuff in the little wooden box, and comes much thicker. Worth trying if you're ever in the neighborhood. If you're interested, I can dig up the name & address.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joe Fensterblaugh

        Being in NYC, it's relatively easy to find. Fairway stocks it in several forms - bagged and still relatively moist, and in long flat dried filets. I don't know the little wooden boxes. I've only just started experimenting with it, but it's >VERY< flavorful. I went with the bagged alternative (which must still be kept cool). Following the soaking instructions on the package (soak refrigerated for 24 hours, change once) left it still overly salty, but the underlying flavor of the dish was outstanding anyway - it tasted very much like the ocean.

        This time, I was going for rinse a few times, then soak for 48 hours, changing twice, but a number of unexpected things intruded, and I wasn't able to get around to it.

      2. thought Id already posted on this thread - rehydrated salt cod is quite perishable, maybe not quite to the degree of fresh fish but still perishable. It was the salt and drying that preserved it and it will degrade once its soaked. Ive had it go bad in circumstances similar to yours - you probably will be able to smell if it has spoiled (soaked salt cod should not smell funky) but even if you arent sure, you probably ought to dump it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          True true. And also (to the orig poster) someone else in this thread mentioned salt cod that was "still relatively moist." Never buy moist salt cod. It should be completely dessicated or else it will be degrading steadily.

          1. re: lucia

            actually, there are several different degrees of dessication, depending on the market. the stuff you get in the wooden boxes, for example, is semi-dry (which is why it's refrigerated). it needs a day of soaking to desalinate. the stuff you buy whole, which is so light it feels like you're lifting bark, has been thoroughly dried and it will take 2 to 3 days to desalinate/rehydrate. there are those who prefer the really dry because even after rehydrating it separates into strands more easily. i like my salt cod a little moister, so the boxed stuff is just right for me.

        2. It's been 9 years now, definitely don't eat it.:)