Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bacalao-bakaiļao- bacallà -baccalà -bacalhau

Bacalao (Spanish), bakaiļao(Basque), bacallà (Catalan), morue (French), baccalà (Italian), bacalhau (Portuguese), klippfisk/clipfish (Scandinavian), saltfiskur (Icelandic), bakalar (Croatian), and Saltfish (Caribbean).

This is one popular hunk of hard, leathery-to-almost-wooden, salt encursted, smelly, preserved fish. How come? Well the age old need for food preservation before refrigeration. Althought phenomenally popular in all the above countries (and a few more such as Macao and other PORTUGUESE COLONIES) the main sources of the fish have always been Newfoundland, Scandinavia and Iceland. They say there is at least one different recipie for saltcod for every day of the year n Portugal. Over here it features too, but not quite so obsessively. I've tried it and was quite impressed. It has a slightly sticky and gelationus quality. Before using, it is soaked in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 3 hours.

Bacalao with Chickpeas
Ingredients - serves 4 people

400g bacalao, large fillets
Virgin olive oil
200g jar chickpeas
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tsp Flour for thickening
Vinegar, 1tbsp

Put the de-salted bacalao in a pan of water and simmer gently for 15 minutes. After fifteen minutes, remove the fish to a plate, but keep the water.
In another pan put the peeled and finely chopped onion and cook gently until it begins to brown.
Add the garlic and chopped parsley, stir and cook for another minute.
Mix with the vinegar and the flour to make a paste, then add to the onions with the bay leaf and several tbsp of the reserved fish water.
Simmer for five minutes then add the chick peas and heat through for another five minutes.

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