Saltfish (salted cod fish or baccala) with bones, product of Norway
Saltfish, sometimes referred to as baccala, salt cod, or salted fish, is cod which has been preserved by drying after salting. The production of saltfish dates back at least 1000 years, to the time of the Vikings. Salting produces a chewier texture and milder, almost sweet, yet still fishy taste than its fresh counterpart.
Saltfish formed a vital item of international commerce between the New and Old Worlds, forming one leg of the so-called triangular trade. Thus it spread around the Atlantic and became a traditional ingredient of many cuisines, including Caribbean, Mediterranean, West African, Brazilian and Northern European.
The drying of food is the world’s oldest known preservation method, and dried fish has a storage life of several years. Salt has strong antibacterials properties which allows the fish to be stored for long periods of time, even at warm temperatures. All salted fish products must be soaked out before cooking. This freshened fish is still uncooked and once re-hydrated, will spoil unless cooked promptly.
In Norway saltfish is called klippfisk, literally “cliff-fish”. Traditionally it was dried outdoors by the wind and sun, often on cliffs and other bare rock-faces. You may be happy to know that now klippfisk is usually dried indoors with the aid of electric heaters.
Saltfish is attributed nutritional and health benefits of: lowering blood pressure; sharpening memory; encouraging healthier skin; lubricating joints; source of essential fatty acids; and source of vitamins and minerals.
Recipe for ‘Ackee and saltfish’
- 1/4 kg saltfish
- 4 rashes bacon
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 tbsp. margarine or butter
- 1 can ackee drained
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 stalk shallot finely chopped
Soak saltfish overnight, changing water to remove salt. Boil saltfish for 8-10 minutes, drain and flake. Cut bacon into pieces and fry. Saute onions and shallot in margarine or butter. Add ackee, bacon pieces and saltfish. Add black pepper, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring gently to avoid breaking up ackee. Serve hot.