Fried Salt Cod (Baccalà Fritto)

1 lb center-cut skinless boneless salt cod, rinsed well
1 qt vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
lemon wedges

Rinse the fish in cold water, then soak for 12 - 24 hours in 2 -4 changes of cold water. Or until it tastes just pleasantly salty. (see notes)

Place pre-soaked codfish in a medium saucepan, add water to cover by 1". Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Do not overcook. Remove the cod and drain the cod well.

Heat vegetable oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until it registers 385 to 390°F on thermometer.

While oil is heating, whisk together flour, salt, olive oil, water, and parsley in a bowl. Drain cod and pat dry, then cut into 3- by 1/2-inch strips. Working in batches of 4, coat strips in batter, then transfer to oil with tongs and fry, turning, until golden, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain. (Return oil to 385 to 390°F between batches.)

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

Makes 8 hors d'oeuvre servings.


A traditional Christmas Eve dish in many Italian homes. Brands of cod differ in their degree of saltiness: A less salty one may need only 12 hours of soaking, while another could require several days. To test it, simply taste a small piece after 12 hours; you want it to be pleasantly salty but not overwhelming.

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