Bite-sized morsels similar to gold nuggets, with a soft fleshy centre enwrapped in a crisp outer crust: fried salt cod is the undisputed king of Italian street food! Try making it for yourself and you’ll soon be hooked!
Each Italian region has its own traditional recipe for fried salt cod. From north to south of the peninsula, every city boasts the best fried cod in the country and, indeed, it is quite impossible to decide which is the tastiest. To trace the advent of salt cod in Italy, we need to go back as far as the Maritime Republics, a time when the coastal cities flourished thanks to a booming import export trade. Salt cod, however, is not such an easy fish to prepare; it deteriorates very slowly and its flesh is particularly turgid.
This is why, from times immemorial, it has always been cut into slices and left to soak for at least 4 days so that its flesh will tenderize and be suitable for frying. The fresh white codfish from which salt cod is made is a highly valued fish, rich in proteins and mineral salts.
In Italy, it is cut into large cubes, fried and served in absorbent paper cones in the old city side streets to offer a tasty treat to tourists and locals as they enjoy a pleasant stroll.
Pieces of firm fleshy fish, dipped into a creamy batter and then golden fried: this, ladies and gentlemen, is his highness, fried salt cod!
Start to make the batter by sieving the flour into a bowl. Add very cold water, extra virgin olive oil and salt. Mix very thoroughly blending all of the ingredients well until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Place the batter in the fridge for 1 hour. Cut the cod into cubes the size of 5 cm approximately, dab them dry with a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper and dip them into the batter to cover the surface completely.
Heat the vegetable oil and fry a few cubes of cod at a time. The cod is ready when it is nice and crisp on the outer surface and has turned a beautiful golden colour. Arrange the fried salt cod on the absorbent paper and season with salt before serving piping hot!
The golden rule is that fried cod should be enjoyed hot, without adding any type of sauce or accompaniment, but it is traditional in Italy to squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on the cod, once it is fried. Fried salt cod is very similar to its popular British cousin, ‘fish and chips’, so a few fried potatoes on the side will not go wrong either.