The last time I cooked with salt cod was a disaster.
In retrospect, the particular piece of fish I bought looked like it had been sat in a dark and dusty corner of a market stall for several years before some poor mug came along to liberate it.
That poor mug just happened to be me.
This time, I’ve made my own, because even though my previous experiences of salt cod were a bit of a let down, I think it deserves a second chance.
The process is simple…it uses just two ingredients – cod and, perhaps unsurprisingly, salt.
Take a thick piece of cod. Tip about a cup of sea salt all over it, pressing the salt in well before wrapping the fish in a single layer of muslin or cheesecloth.
Place the wrapped up cod on a wire rack over a bowl in the fridge and leave for twenty-four hours. Water will leech out of the fish and drip into the bowl.
The next day, rinse the fish very thoroughly under running water, dry it and re-wrap in a single layer of cloth.
Leave the fish to dry on the rack in the fridge for a week and you’ve got salt cod.
The process is simply one of dehydration. The salt draws the water out of the fish and the air slowly dries it out.
The finished salt cod will be hard – if there’s any sign of tenderness, leave it to dry for a while longer.
When you’re ready to use it, just rehydrate the cod in a few changes of water for a day or so.
This method comes from Michael Ruhlman’s brilliant and highly recommended Charcuterie, a superb introduction to drying and preserving food.