Known worldwide, baccalà mantecato is the most-iconic food of Venice. Its main ingredient comes from Norway’s Lofoten Islands, air-dried codfish, which in Venice and the Veneto region is known as bacalà or baccalà, while everywhere else in Italy it is called stoccafisso. In fact, baccalà, outside the Veneto, usually signifies the salted cod. Dried cod or salted cod, what is the difference? The basic difference between stoccafisso and baccalà is that the former, stockfish, is dried on vast open-air timber racks, while the latter is codfish cured by dry-salting it. To make the recipe of Venetian style creamed cod, you should therefore use the dried cod, which requires three-day of soaking in water before cooking. It is served as an appetizer with polenta or on slices of crusty bread, or else as a main course. Baccalà alla vicentina (Vicenza-style dried cod) is another Veneto’s popular cod-based recipe.
About 300 gr dried cod – soaked for 72hrs. – skinned and boned
0,3 L extra virgin olive oil (with a more neutral flavour)
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
Put the fish into a large saucepan. Add water to cover, season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add garlic, lemon juice and bay leaves; simmer for 20 minutes.
Transfer cod to a bowl, start working it with a wooden spoon (or, you can use a food processor with the plastic blade on). Beat well, adding the oil in a gentle stream, as you do so, just as you would in making mayonnaise, until it will become a whipped and consistent texture.
If it is too glossy, add a ladle of the cooking water. There should be still some pieces of cod. The quantity of oil used depends on the quality of the cod. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Serve with polenta on the side, preferably made from white cornmeal such as Marano or Biancoperla (white pearl).