Bacalhau (salted cod) is subject of much debate, adoration and respect all over Portugal. The careful curing of an otherwise fairly uninteresting fish results in a rich taste and satisfying texture which the Portuguese absolutely love.
The curing is a complex process which determines the quality of the final produce. Most of us don’t cure our own cod and can only source the best we can like the superior cod from Sr António in Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon. What we have a hand on is the soaking process; this is a make or break deal. Some important tips to keep in mind. The water in which you soak the cod must be cold (and be kept cold). In the summer we often soak cod in the fridge of keep ‘feeding’ it with blocks of ice. Bacalhau soaked in lukewarm water is not a pleasant experience… In Portugal it is know that cod must be soaked skin up but not everyone knows why! If you were to soak it skin down all the salt would be retained in the layer between flesh and skin and would ultimately release during cooking making for an extremely salted dish. Finally, cod should be soaked 1.5 days for thin pieces and up to 3 days for thick (middle) pieces, the water must be changed every 12 hours. Soaking your own cod is a rewarding process and guaranteed to achieve better results than the industrially produced version. Finally remember to debate your bacalhau, adore it and respect it!