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Bacalao soaking time question

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Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 11:53 AM

Hey there. I'm going to make a fantastic soup with mixed beans, bacalao, mixed dried chilis roasted, soaked, blended and strained, tomatoes, and homemade veggie broth. The bacalao part was spontaneous as I was looking for something else the store was out of.

So, I saw some packages of bacalao saying to soak for 24 hours, some for 6-8. I spoke to the manager who is Dominican, and he said they don't even soak it at all for soup, just rinse it off. I figured I'd better soak it some, and while doing so, my online searches seem to be unanimous to soak it for 24 hours, even for soup -- even up to 3 days. I did see one Food Network guy saying to boil it for 10 minutes and drain and it's good to go.

Ideally I'd make this soup today, but I don't want to ruin all my other hard done preparation. So considering that I'm making soup in which the fish would be simmered for 1.5 hours, do I still need to soak it for 24 hours first with changes of water? Would it help to boil it or not? I've heard somehting about soaking salty things in milk, but maybe I'm dreaming.

So what do we know about using bacalao in soup? (It's filets, not whole) I would think the salt would just infuse into the unsalted broth, but Laylita's blog says it could cause bitterness. Thanks so much.

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    ChiliDude RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 01:22 PM

    I assume that you are using the Portuguese word for dried cod fish. I'm more familiar with the Italian word 'baccala', and I've heard that Italians often soak the dried cod for more than 24 hours with several changes of water before using it as an ingredient in any dish. Some people even soak it in milk to get rid of the salt.

    Access the following website for Culinary Uses.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baccalà#...

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      sr44 RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 01:50 PM

      Is it the cod in the wooden boxes or is it the really hard kind that is sold by the piece? The wooden box kind is less salty than the hard kind and takes less soaking.

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        escondido123 RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 02:07 PM

        I would suggest cutting off a piece, rinsing it well and then cooking in boiling water. If the result is too salt, then you'll need to go for a longer soaking time...I usually soak mine overnight with water changes for cod cakes.

        1. Duppie RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 02:12 PM

          When you indicated that the shopkeeper was Dominican it makes me think that the Bacalao you purchased was the type popular with the Caribbean Latins which is not Cod but more likely Pollack and is typically wetter and softer but less salty.
          Read the package and if it is indeed the type I indicated it would need to soak less since the salt curing is different from the Canadian or Norwegian cured salt Cod.
          I would soak it at least for a day and change the water a couple times.
          Good Luck.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Duppie
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            Ianto2000 RE: Duppie Sep 10, 2012 02:24 PM

            Yes it is pollack.

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            Ianto2000 RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 02:13 PM

            Thanks so far. I've been soaking it for 4 hours with 2 changes of water already. The water doesn't seem especxally salty now, but I don't want to rush it. It was sold in a plastic bag and was very salty on the outside, not the wooden box. I might try that test escondido, thanks.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Ianto2000
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              Ianto2000 RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 04:25 PM

              OK, so I soaked the fish for maybe 5 hours, changing the water 5 times. I then boiled it in plain water twice while I started sauting the soup veggies and then cooking the soup. The fish was not especially salty after those 2 boilings, in fact I wish I would have boiled it only once. Everything is cooking now and looks great so far. 24 hours soaking seems to be an exaggeration for using bacalao in this manner.

              1. re: Ianto2000
                Duppie RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 05:43 PM

                Yes the boiling will do it in. I only boil salt cod if I'm rushed for time and the preparation requires a smaller morsel like a bunjol or a bacalao con natas.

                1. re: Duppie
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                  Ianto2000 RE: Duppie Sep 11, 2012 10:27 AM

                  Yes the boiling made it fall quite apart, though that's OK for the soup. I realized it wasn't nearly enough though and got 2 more packs today, soaking from morning til late dinner time, then in in goes. Realized I won't be cooking it for hours in the soup either, duh. Well again the shopkeeper seemed to think that was OK, lol, so. Couldn't find any hits on bunjol, curious, do you have a link?

                  1. re: Ianto2000
                    Duppie RE: Ianto2000 Sep 11, 2012 10:55 AM

                    So sorry my spelling was off . Google Salt fish buljol, or go to Caribbeanpot.com and you will find the recipe.
                    In a nut shell it's a breakfast salad made with salted cod that is very popular in the Islands and one of my favorite ways to get the day started.

                    PS:The one thing missing from Chris's recipe is 1 finely chopped scotch bonnet or habanero pepper.

                    1. re: Duppie
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                      Ianto2000 RE: Duppie Sep 11, 2012 02:38 PM

                      I love carribbeanpot.com! Made some very decent red pea soup and ground provision soup (I think he calls it something else.) Can't make decent jerk chicken under a broiler to save my life, darnit. The buljol looks good.

                      1. re: Ianto2000
                        Duppie RE: Ianto2000 Sep 11, 2012 03:19 PM

                        Yes Chris is a good Trini cook out of Canada, check out Felix at Simply Trini Cooking, He's still on the island and has some very traditional recipes.
                        Also peruse the recent Jerk thread on the home cooking board for some hints.

                        Bacalao in the Caribbean was integrated into the cuisine of Indian,English,Lebanese,Chinese,African cultures and is a beloved staple with many excellent dishes represented.

            2. alkapal RE: Ianto2000 Sep 10, 2012 05:05 PM

              i've seen a range of times -- from overnight (José Andrés) to just two-three hours (Caribbean cookbook). Key is changing out the water at least two or three times.

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              1. re: alkapal
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                aventinus RE: alkapal Sep 11, 2012 08:50 PM

                I've seen up to three days, with water changes every day.

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                aventinus RE: Ianto2000 Sep 11, 2012 08:48 PM

                For real bacalao, I would err on the side of long soaking and several changes of water until you're familiar with it. Bacalao can be VERY salty. Think several tablespoons of salt per pound. If you don't soak it enough, you will ruin your dish.

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                  Ianto2000 RE: Ianto2000 Nov 6, 2012 07:58 AM

                  OK I'm trying this again today. Last time I had soaked the pollack for only 5 hours or so, and tried to remove more salt by boiling it, but it fell apart too much. This time I've already soaked it for 2 days, changing the water twice a day, and I think it should work out better. While making the soup last time, II added 2 rounds of fish to half the soup, as the fish was what lent it its primary flavor, and froze the other half without adding that second round of fish, intending to do so after defrosting as I am today. It was a pretty great soup, with tomatoes and reconstituted dried pepper and beans. Today I'll add the additional fish and some dried epazote, just because I can. So yes, I believe the answer to my own question is overall it does indeed need to be soaked for at least a full day and preferably 2-3 days as is usually recommended.

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