How to desalt and cook salt cod easily for a flavorful, tender, and savory fish fillet. This incredible cured fish is high in protein and low in fat, making it an excellent choice for any meal!
Salted cod is very popular in many countries around the world, especially in Europe and the Caribbean. People have been preserving fish in salt for centuries as the salt draws out the moisture. You may think that desalting and cooking cod is very complicated, but I promise you, it isn’t!
I am really excited to share this recipe with you! Salted cod is healthy with lots of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s high in protein and low in fat, and it’s relatively inexpensive. The best thing is that it’s super simple to make and so versatile. You can add it to all sorts of dishes – from salads to stews and fritters.
Salt Cod vs. Fresh Fish
Although salted cod is not fresh, it has many benefits, namely the taste. The process of salting cod produces a very mild taste – it’s savory but not salty or too overtly fishy. Arguably, it has a nicer texture and flavor than fresh cod. But what I like the most, though, is that you can pair salted cod with so many different flavors, particularly salads, like Simple Quinoa Salad with Walnuts and Avocado, Easy Tuna Salad with Mixed Vegetables, or High-Protein Grilled Salmon Avocado Salad Bowl.
It’s also delicious with rice (like this Simple Breakfast Fried Rice with Egg) or grains, in general, like quinoa.
In addition, for more of a Caribbean flavor, I think salt cod is amazing with a serving of Coconut Bake, Buljol salad, and Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dip (Baigan Choka/Bharta).
Before cooking the cod, though, you need to rehydrate and desalinate it by soaking it in cold water first. It does take a bit of preparation, but it is totally worth it! Don’t worry, it’s really simple, too!
What you’ll need
A fillet of salt cod fish. A quality salt cod will come both with bones and skin.
How to Desalt Salt Cod
If you have a very large cod fillet, you can first cut it into 2 or several pieces. It’s easiest to do so with scissors.
Then, carefully rinse the fish with fresh water. Make sure you cover the fish with water in a large bowl and gently rub it to remove the salt. Alternatively, you can do this directly under running water.
You can repeat this 2-3 times if you feel like there’s too much salt left, but don’t worry as you still need to soak the fish in water. You will see how much salt is left behind when discarding the water.
Then soak the fish in some more fresh cold water and keep it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, in an airtight container. Make sure to change the water every few hours.
Chef’s note: it’s best to use a ceramic or glass container as these materials are resistant to salt.
Optionally, you can remove the skin before cooking. To do that, pull the flesh with your fingers away from the skin. I usually like to keep the skin on and skip this step.
How to Cook Salt Cod
There are generally 2 ways you can do this:
- You can cook the whole piece once you’ve soaked it long enough.
- You can first take a small piece and boil it for a minute and then taste it. If it’s too salty, just keep soaking the fish for a few more hours before cooking the whole fish.
Once you’ve soaked the fish and rinsed off any excess salt, you can cook it!
Place it in a pot with lots of water. Add a squeeze of lemon (this is optional, but I really feel it gives a nice overall taste).
After that, bring it to a gentle boil and cook for about 10-12 minutes. You don’t want to boil it vigorously, though, because the fish could become tough and rubbery.
Skim off any foam that’s formed on top.
After it has cooked, you can more easily remove the fish bones. I usually use a fork and a spoon to do this, but you could use your fingers if you want. You can then shred into small pieces ready to use in your stew or salad.
How to Serve
Once prepared, you can serve it with Buljol salad, which is a delicious Caribbean salad dish!
You could also serve it over brown rice or Fluffy Perfect Jasmine Rice.
The cooked cod goes great with salads, stews, and for making fritters. You can also fry or bake it into dishes like casseroles, croquettes, potato gratin, etc.
How to Store
If you have any leftovers, you can easily refrigerate them! I put the fish in an airtight container. It can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.
When the cooked fish has cooled completely, you can put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for about 2 months. To thaw, just put it in the refrigerator overnight. Once it has thawed, do not refreeze it.
- Salmon and Kale Potato Salad (Smoked Salmon Salad)
- High-Protein Grilled Salmon Avocado Salad Bowl
- Easy Tuna Salad with mixed vegetables
- Miso Glazed Sweet Potato
- Simple Savory Oatmeal (Egg Oatmeal)
- Simple Breakfast Fried Rice with Egg
- Massaged Kale Salad with Lemon (+ Variations)
If you try this salted cod recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
How to Desalt and Cook Salt Cod
- 10 ounces fillet salted cod or more
- 1 lemon optional
Soak the Salt Cod
- If you have a very large cod fillet, you can first cut it into 2 or several pieces. It's easiest to do so with scissors.
- Carefully rinse the fish with fresh water. Make sure you cover it with water.Repeat this procedure 2-3 times if you feel like there’s too much salt left.
- Soak the fish in some more fresh water and keep it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, in an airtight container. Make sure to change the water every few hours.
Cook the Salt Cod
- Either cook the whole piece once you've soaked it long enough or take a small piece and boil it and then taste it. If it's too salty, just keep soaking the fish for a few more hours before cooking the whole fish.
- Once you've soaked the fish, rinse off any excess salt.
- Place the cod in a pot with lots of water. Add a squeeze of lemon, if using.
- Bring it to a gentle boil and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Don’t boil it vigorously, though, because the fish could become tough and rubbery.
- Skim off any foam that's formed on top.
- Once cooked, remove the fish bones using a fork and a spoon.
How to Store
- Refrigerate any leftovers. It can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.When the cooked fish has cooled completely, you can put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for about 2 months. To thaw, just put it in the refrigerator overnight. Once it has thawed, do not refreeze it.
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