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Fresh or salted cod? Which is the most suitable for each recipe?

Fresh or salted cod? Which is the most suitable for each recipe?

Cod is one of the most traditionally consumed fish in inland regions. This is because the salting technique has been used for centuries to preserve it for a long time and be able to trade with it.

It is a fish with a mild flavor and clear, firm, flaky meat, which has almost no fat or red muscle. It became a classic of Mediterranean gastronomy and the white fish par excellence, the one most consumed in the interior. This is talking about salted cod, because fresh ones were very difficult to find , only in specialized stores and at crazy prices. Or so it was until a few years ago, because thanks to new refrigeration and transportation techniques, today it is easy to find either of the two without any problem.

However, even though they are the same fish, their properties and uses in cooking vary greatly depending on whether it is fresh or salted . Today we are going to talk to you about the two variants and in which recipes it is best to use each of them.

fresh cod

Fresh cod has only been on the market in Spain for a short time, about 25 years, but it was not until the last 10 years that its consumption in our country began to become fashionable. This new trend of consuming fresh cod is due to the large investment by the Norwegian government in its cod brand “Skrei” , a quality seal issued by Norwegians who choose the best specimens of cod and select them for sale fresh.

For a cod to obtain the “skrei” seal, it must weigh more than 3 kg, be cleaned the same day it is caught, no more than 12 hours must pass between fishing and shipping for packaging, and it must maintain a temperature of between 0 and 2 degrees during packaging.

It is a fish that goes very well to make all kinds of stews, baked or even consumed raw or cooked at low temperatures. It is not highly recommended to cook it at very high temperatures since it breaks down too much; for these recipes it is better to use salted cod.

How to treat fresh cod before cooking

  1. The way to treat fresh cod is to put it in a brine of 70 grams of salt per 1 liter of water for approximately 25 minutes. It is a way to give it a touch of salt to enhance its flavor. Although if you don’t have time it can be used as is, like a normal white fish.
  2. The time will depend on the thickness of the piece, but it will enhance its flavor; a large loin is not the same as the tail part of the cod.
  3. You can also make a dry brine for 20 minutes. After each one you have to wash it well with cold water, and this way it will remain in its flavor point. This cod is great in stews and also in batter.

Salted cod

Salted cod has a much longer history. The Vikings were the first to trade this fish with the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula in exchange for salt. These exchanges used to take place on the coast of what is now Portugal , which is why it has become a traditional Portuguese dish.

In the past, the fish was cut in half, salted and left to dry on rocks or a shelf. Today, the process has evolved considerably and the fish meat is cured thoroughly for 15 days , saturating the cod with up to 25% salt and leaving it to dry for months. This causes a series of changes in oxygen and amino acids that change the flavor completely.

  • To know if we are looking at good quality cured cod, we must look at the color. This should be a shade between white and cream. A fish that has brown and/or yellowish areas is telling us that it is not in good condition.
  • To prepare salted cod, the most important thing is desalting it . The usual thing is to leave it in water for 48 hours, changing that water every 12 hours, although it depends a little on the particular cod and the supplier, so it’s a matter of getting the hang of it.
  • We can have it grilled, fried and battered; In our selection of cod stews on the blog you have a lot of ideas, accompanied with all kinds of legumes, potatoes or even rice. It is also perfect for baking, you already know that Portuguese cod is one of my favorite dishes. And of course it is the best ally for traditional dishes such as cod in caldeirada, in green sauce, pil-pil, Vizcaya style…

Conservation. How to freeze cod

  • To freeze desalted cod , we must dry it as best as possible using kitchen paper or even a clean cloth. We squeeze it to remove as much water as possible. We put it in zip (or airtight) bags with the amount we will need for a recipe and freeze.
  • If we have a  vacuum packaging machine  , much better, since it can remain in the freezer for longer without losing any of its properties, reaching one year without problem.
  • Freezing fish at sea is the best way to preserve its freshness, which is why deep-freezing is the best method and is usually done on the high seas. Although there is no problem in making it at home, if frozen fish is stored correctly (between -17º and -30 °C) it can maintain its fresh flavor for 12 months. Although the freezing time varies depending on the method we have used to cook it (freezing it already cooked is not the same as freezing it if it is fresh, desalted or lightly salted (and it can range from 3 months to practically a year as I mentioned). previously.

Here we leave you our selection of recipes to prepare cod that you will lick your fingers with.

In Spain we have some incredible recipes, perhaps one of my favorites because I love this fish, and with great success on the blog. You will find everything from the traditional pil pil cod , the delicious Vizcaya style cod , the colorful cod in green sauce to the simple cod with tomato

Green vegetables with cod

Lovers of spooning and cod will find in this recipe a great ally that, in addition to enjoyment for the palate, guarantees little time in the kitchen and minimal effort.

Cod pil pil

Cod al pil pil is made with only three ingredients, cod, oil and garlic, and chilli can be added if desired. Thanks to the excellent flavor of cod and the presence of garlic in the sauce, it is not necessary to add salt.

Biscayan-style cod

How to make Biscayan-style cod. Of the traditional fish recipes throughout Spain, this dish will always be present. It is one of the staples on the menus of all houses and restaurants, where the protagonists are 2 authentic kings of its gastronomy: cod and chorizo ​​peppers.

Cod with tomato

Today we have prepared cod in one of its simplest preparations,  cod with tomato , stewed in a wonderful  homemade tomato sauce , to die for. As with all traditional recipes, there are many ways to prepare this cod with tomato dish. I recommend my mother’s recipe, which always wins.

Cod Portuguese

I present to you a baked cod,  Portuguese-style cod or bacalhau à Margarida da Praça,  baked with potatoes. A typical and traditional recipe from the north of the country, from the Miño River area that, despite its simplicity, is a classy dish.

What is your favorite recipe with cod?

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