Another popular pescetarian dish for the Feast of the Seven Fishes is Baccalà alla Napoletana.
As you might already know, baccalà or salt-cured cod is a favorite ingredient in various Italian cities, including Naples and Venice. And it can certainly be cooked in various ways. This recipe in particular, however, is the most popular way to prepare this fish in Naples.
As its name suggests, baccalà alla napoletana is from the beautiful coastal city of Naples. A dish that certainly exhibits bold vivid flavors, baccalà alla napoletana’s main ingredients are salt-cured cod, black olives, capers, pine nuts, and tomatoes. It also requires extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. However, this dish also has quite popular versions in the regions of Veneto and Liguria. It is not only served during the Feast of the Seven Fishes, but also during other religious holidays such as Lent. Clearly, baccalà is a favorite fish for many Italian families.
Baccalà: Some Interesting Factoids
- Baccalà and stoccafisso (stockfish in English) are actually both cod fish. Their only difference is the way they are preserved. Baccalà is salt-cured while stoccafisso is air-dried.
- Preserving cod fish in salt was actually introduced by the Basques. The Basque people can be found in the western Pyrenees region, between the borders of Spain and France.
- Contrary to what you might think, baccalà doesn’t actually smell much like fish. It does, however, have quite an intense flavor.
- Baccalà, or salt-cured cod, is one of the most popular seafood in the city of Naples. As a matter of fact, there’s a sort of urban legend in the city that there are about 365 ways to eat baccalà.
- Although many Italian dishes have baccalà in their recipe names, many of them actually means stoccafisso. This is particularly true for the Veneto region.
Things You Need to Know Before Cooking Baccalà:
Before cooking baccalà, you must soak it in water for several hours. It should be soaked at least overnight. You should replace the water every few hours. If you want to remove as much of the salt as possible, you can soak it for 2 days.
After you soak it, rinse it with cold running water to clear away the excess salt. Then, pat dry with paper towels to remove as much of the water as possible.
How to Make Baccalà alla Napoletana
After you have prepared the salt-cured cod days before, making Baccalà alla Napoletana will be quite easy. Just follow the instructions below and you will have a delectable secondo in no time.
- 1 kilo of baccalà cod fish
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 60 grams of pine nuts
- 200 grams of black olives
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of cooking oil
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the salted cod into squares or rectangles.
- In a bowl, put the flour and cover each piece of salted cod with it.
- In a pan, pour the cooking oil and fry the salted cod pieces until they look a bit golden. When done, set on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- In a saucepan, add the extra virgin olive oil, black olives, capers, garlic, and pine nuts. Mix all of them together and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Next, add the tomato sauce and combine well with the spices. Cover the pan and simmer this for about 20 minutes in low heat.
- Add the fried salted cod pieces and then, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well for about a minute or two.
- Serve immediately.
Note: You can also use fresh ripe tomatoes for this recipe, instead of canned tomato sauce. Just dice them into small pieces and cook them until they become sauce-like.