Friday, November 1, 2013

Salted Cod Salad

Beautiful meaty salted cod fillet, cooked in milk, has taste and texture like anything else. Its amazing umami after-taste is celebrated in this healthy, delicious and satisfying salad.

Blog's Category: My Own Fast and Easy, International, Vegetarian


Salted cod can be found in any Italian grocery (if you are lucky to have one around). Somewhere in a fridge or even freezer, there will be pieces of salted and dry fish fillet, wrapped in plastic wrap. It will have label "Bacala" or "Baccala" - that's just another name for salted cod. It won't be cheap but for a good reason, those who was introduced to salted cod even once, will always be craving it.

It's not a first time I cook with bacala (see my Salt Cod Pate). This time I wanted to make traditional salt cod dish - mashed potato with salt cod... but... suddenly, I have come across the recipe of fish salad in one of my favorite youtube cooking videos in Russian, "babushka Emma" (BTW, thank you guys for ideas - great job!). That salad included fresh fish fillet, cooked in boiling water. So, I decided why not salted cod? I'm glad I've made this choice because this salad is a winner and salted cod brings it to another level. This is one of those salad that combine "all-in-one" qualities - great taste, satisfaction, perfect nutrition and versatility. It's another "tuna salad" for me, but better :)

What is it?

Cooked in milk, salted cod, flaked, is mixed with shredded kohlrabi, cheddar cheese, sweet onion and walnuts. Dressing made of some mayo (no boo-ing, please :)), orange juice, rice vinegar, salt and pepper finishes the salad. 

Taste Description

Oh, the taste of salad is so sophisticated that you'll be finding new nuances with each and every bite of it. The first you will note is wonderfully chewy and substantial chunks of cod that will surprise you with true umami taste. How to define "umami" taste? That's an interesting question. Those who experienced umami will know, usually umami comes to those who is adventurous, curious and sophisticated in their food choices :) Umami is anything but certain, defined or assertive. It's not a taste - it's after-taste which you will be chasing by stretching your "period of chewing" and wanting another bite after another to experience this deep, soft, warm and tender taste on the back of your tongue.

Yes, salted cod is really defines this salad. Nevertheless, other ingredients: perfectly crispy kohlrabi, tasty milky cheese bits, flavorful and somewhat crunchy walnut pieces, generously coated with orange and black pepper flavored dressing, will encase our star, bacala, in the best possible way.

I was looking for a great salted cod salad and I think I got it now!

How to Serve

Serve with a slice of orange, right away, or next day, on a bed of lettuce, or as filling for your sandwich, or with a croutons on a side (that's how I had it for my lunch at work today - so goo-o-o-od).

Salted Cod Salad

For about 6 full servings:
  • 1.5 lb salted cod (bacala)
  • about 1 quart (liter) of milk
  • 2 c walnuts, chopped
  • 2 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 large kohlrabi, peeled and julienned or grated
  • 1/2 small sweet (Vidalia) onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 medium orange, juice only
  • 2/3 c good mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3-4 tbs rice vinegar

- Place salted cod in a small pot, cover with cold tap water, cover and place in a fridge for a one or two days to soak and get rid of extra salt. Usually, it's recommended to change water at least once, but I didn't do that.

- After soaking, drain the water, add milk to barely cover pieces of cod and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low simmering and cook for about 10-15 minutes, flipping pieces once.

- Transfer cod to a plate and let it to cool down. Discard the milk.

- With your bare clean hands (:), flake cod into small pieces. Taste it and if it still salty, adjust the salt in a dressing accordingly (my cod was not salty at all at this point). Let flaked cod to cool down completely.

- Make a dressing, using whisk, mixing orange juice, mayo, rice vinegar, salt and pepper until smooth.

- In a large bowl, mix cod, cheese, onion, kohlrabi and walnuts together. Add dressing, stir nicely again and enjoy!


- Feel free to use other cheese but I think that cheddar fit here perfectly.

- Who could explain me why I hear on a tv food channels often: "combining cheese with a seafood is a sin" Why? Why? I know so many great dishes where fish merry cheese readily. And what about such a traditional dishes as lobster or seafood risotto?! Without parmesan? really? Or stuffed calamari where cheese is among ingredients?
Well, I guess in case with a delicate fresh fish there is no point to mask its beautiful natural taste with strong cheeses. Hah, I wish I could have an access to the freshest seafood. But as a most folks I often succumb to frozen or dry fish/seafood and that's when, I think, great cheeses come handy, right?



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