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Sunday, October 10, 2010

baccalà fritto (fried salt cod)

 I have been searching high and low for this recipe for... oh, four or five years now. finally, here it is!* a fairly simple dish of battered and breaded salt cod, fried in olive oil and topped with a tasty sharp fresh salad of parsley, tomato and green onion, with fresh lemon squeezed over all. I love salt cod prepared almost any way, but this is easily my favorite; worth all the prep time, clean-up, etc. fresh fish would work for this recipe too, of course, but salt cod is so delicious, so perfect in texture for this. I've adapted the recipe a bit to my personal taste.

*had I realized this was a Mario Batali recipe, I'm sure I could have found it much more quickly. a friend used to make this for me and I never knew where he got the recipe (and he wasn't telling!).

2 pounds salt cod, portioned into approx. 8-ounce fillets, all bones removed
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon kosher salt? (I'm guessing here; the recipe on foodnetwork.com doesn't include the measurement for the salt)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
cold club soda (enough to form a loose batter)
2 quarts olive oil for frying (pure olive oil works well here; you don't want to waste your good EVOO for the frying) (and wow, 2 quarts seems like a LOT to me; I may adjust this after I make it)
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped (loosely packed)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
lots of fresh lemon wedges for serving

rinse the salt cod in cold water, then soak in water (in your refrigerator) for 48 hours, changing water every 12 hours (so 4 changes of water total).

heat the olive oil for frying to 375 degrees F in a tall-sided pot, wok or deep fryer.

in a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and enough club soda to form a loose batter. place panko in a pie plate.

dip each fillet into batter, allow excess to drip off, then dredge with bread crumbs. when the oil reaches 375 degrees F, gently drop a filet or two at a time into the oil and cook until golden-brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. drain on paper toweling.

while fish is cooking, combine the parsley, tomatoes and scallions in a bowl, and toss with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. season to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

to serve, top each fillet with an equal portion of the parsley/tomato salad, and accompany with wedges of lemon to squeeze over all.

absolutely delicious! I can't wait to make this one.

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