• Bacalao: a Special Fish from Spain

    Bacalao: a Special Fish from Spain

    Bacalao is the Spanish word for salted cod. The Spaniards love all kinds of seafood, but the most popular by far is the bacalao, which is prepared in all regions of Spain in a multitude of ways.

    In seafaring times, salting was the way to preserve all meats, and cod was no exception. Centuries ago the Basques fished cod in the North Atlantic and brought it back to Spain to salt. Salted and preserved as stiff boards in the shape of a kite, even people far inland could taste this fish, and bacalao came to be sold predominantly in this manner. It is also the fish of choice for those who observe "Meatless Fridays".

    Like the jamon, the other Spanish delicacy, the bacalao now has its specialty shops, where the fish is sold as if it were meat, ready cut and labelled with its place of origin. An expert can advise you which cut is good for what kind of preparation, be it fried, grilled, or in a stew.

    Bacalao requires about 24 hours of soaking, first in cold water that must be changed 2-4 times. For the last 2 hours of the soaking the water should be warm, to draw out most of the remaining salt.

    The bacalao after soaking is a soft and fluffy piece of fish with just the right amount of saltiness. As mentioned, it is a delicious and versatile ingredient that perform beautifully in a variety of recipes. (Shown in picture is Bacalao pil pil, a popular recipe from the Basque country.)