venerdì 19 dicembre 2008

The Baccalà

The Baccalà (salt cod) is a particular type of cod, fished in the Atlantic sea, different from cod that is caught in the Mediterranean sea, known by the name Nasello.
How is it that a fish of the North arrived in Sicily and has become an essential food (especially in the past), ingredient
of traditional dishes (fried cod, with raisins, a sfinciuni)?

It arrived in Sicily by the Normans, descendants of the Vikings (great navigators of Norway) who fished in these seas cod, which used to store it through a drying process in the open air, reducing rigid like sticks. So the type of fish conservation gave a new name, which was "stick fish", in the Flemish word "kabeljaw", which became our baccalà, or a derivation of Anglo-Saxon stick (wood), fish (fish,) or Norwegian stockfish, from which our stoccafisso.

In the years to follow, the Basque people of northern France and of Spain encounters this kind of cod, going hunting for whales. These fishermen began using a new type of conservation, both to transport in warmer lands, both because they generally put under salt the meat of whales. They conserved cod, gutted, beheaded and putting it under salt (this method was later resumed and expanded also by the Vikings).

It is so that even today is conserved the salt cod, differently from that which we call stockfish, which is dried in the open air.
The use of salt cod arrived in Sicily thanks to the Normans and later as a bargaining chip (in exchange for the salt of Trapani) and became a protagonist of our tables because it was a cheap, but is a nutritious food because it is rich in protein.

The salt cod was consumed on Friday for Lent and especially during the period of December to the immaculate conception for the New Year dinner.
To be cooked, the salt cod needs a preceding process of desalination (which lasts from twenty-four to forty-eight hours), to make his flesh softer. This process starts already in fishmongers. Is possible to see in our markets (or Ballarò or Cape), the benches where there are fillets of cod dipped in pans of water or under taps of cold running water .Before cook, you rinse in cold water.

Fried cod (Baccalà):
is a simple recipe, cover, with flour,the fillets previously rinsed and cut into pieces , fry in boiling olive oil . Put in absorbent paper and are ready

Baccalà with passuli (raisins):
chop an onion and fry it in a pan with a clove of garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add tomato sauce or tomato extract (lengthened with the water needed). Adjust salt. Add a handful of raisins (big), previously soaked in water. When the sauce is ready, put gently cod fillets previously rinsed and let cook for one quarter of an hour, taking care that it don't attack at the bottom of the pan. (someone adds also black olives).

Baccalà a sfinciuni: prepare the sauce that is the same that we used for the sfincione. Cut into slice the onion and fry it in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, add chopped anchovy. Add chopped peeled tomatoes or tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Cook for twenty minutes.
Prepare a baking dish with paper oven unta of extra virgin olive oil. Put the cod fillets and cover with the previously prepared sauce and add oregano. Put across the surface abundant breadcrumbs.
Put in the oven for about 15 min. Some people add black olives, there is another version where you add in the pan even touches of potatoes boiled.

Baccalà apparecchiato alla palermitana: (see capone apparecchiato).

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