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Bacalao: Salt Cod Stew from Norway


Bacalao: Salt Cod Stew from Norway

While countries such as Portugal, Brazil and Italy have a rich culinary tradition of eating salt cod (although Italy has a stronger love affair with dry cod, stoccafisso), Norwegians mostly eat cod in a tomato stew called bacalao. Bacalao is one of the most unique dishes .It first appeared in a Norwegian cookbook in 1893.
The most important thing to remember when using salt cod is to soak (and rinse) it in water the right amount of time, often about two days. Follow the instructions on the package. Soaking rehydrates the fish and washes away the salinity. Also remember to cook the potatoes until tender.


500 g salt cod
150 ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 red chilly
12 shallots
2 tins chopped quality tomato
16 small waxy potatoes (not floury) or 10 medium-sized
½ glass pimientos del piquillo (optional)
a handful of black olives such as kalamata
a handful of flat-leaf parsley
sour cream (or aioli) to serve


1. Soak the salt cod according to package instructions, usually about two days with exchange of water twice a day.
2. Finely chop the garlic and chilly. Add the olive oil to a wide frying pan and gently fry for 2 minutes.
3. Peel the shallots and divide into two. Fry for 5 minutes with the garlic and chilly while you shake the pan from time to time.
4. Add the tomatoes and boil gently with the lid on.
5. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and divide the small potatoes into two (and medium-sized into three). Add to the pan and continue boiling for 1 hour, still with the lid on. Make sure the potatoes are covered in sauce.
6. When the potatoes are almost done, add the sliced dry cod. It is better to add the fish later, than sooner. Continue boiling gently for about 15 to 20 minutes.
7. When 5 minutes remain, add the pimiento and olives.
8. Adjust the seasoning with pepper and scatter chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread and aioli, or sour cream.

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