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Mar 14 / scott.campbell

Salt Cod and Water Activity

The world would likely be a different place without salt cod.  A few sentences in Ruhlman’s book got me wondering about the history of this fish – how the Vikings learned to dry it, but the Basques learned to salt it so it would last even longer.  Wanting to learn more, I stumbled on an excerpt from Kurlansky’s book “Cod” and ended up fascinated by the subject, and wanting to try my hand at making salt cod.

Turns out, this is the simplest recipe in “Charcuterie” requiring only salt and cod. I dredged the fish in salt, wrapped in cheesecloth, and put in the fridge per the instructions.  One aspect of the process I’ll be watching is how much the water activity drops after the salt phase, and how much it changes as it dries in the fridge for 4-7 days.  Drying in the fridge reminds me of dry-aging beef, a practice that I’ve used quite a bit, but tends to make food safety people nervous.

One puzzling aspect of this recipe: after going to the trouble of taking the water out of the fish, you have to put it all back in if you want to eat it.  Seems a little counterproductive, but I’ll go with it.

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