With every Advent, cod returns to our tables. Northern fish has become an inseparable part of winter gastronomy. It is made a la bianco, in combination with various additives, as a stew, or in the oven. But how did cod really become such a favourite fish?
Cod still lives in the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. But several hundred years ago, this fish appeared on the menus of the warm parts of the Mediterranean. The reason for this is simple. Cod is extremely suitable for drying, after which you get an excellent food rich in taste. It is abundant because the cod has no natural enemies but is a powerful predator.
Cod saltdrying is a great invention because the fish does not need to be kept in ice, and salt additionally protects it from rotting. Such fish can be stored for a long time and prepared for eating in a relatively short time. In history, this was very important, because it was possible to feed the population, workers, and passengers on long voyages. Cod is usually soaked in water and prepared in different ways.
The first cod was hunted by the Vikings. In their fast ships, they brought rich catches to the drakkars, which were then prepared in various ways. Cod was usually cut into thin pieces and dried in the wind. The dried cod lost most of its mass, but what remained had a high caloric value. Thus, cod fed the European north and gave strength to survive long and cold winters.
The Basques also hunted cod. They traveled far north from the Bay of Biscay, dried their catch, salted it, and sold it as a delicacy in the markets of France, Spain and Portugal. In these countries, cod has become a favourite fish, especially in Portugal, where it almost has the status of a national dish. Nevertheless, the cod remained deeply in the national identity of the Basques, so it was said that the cod spoke Euskadi - the Basque language.
Cod arrived in Croatia via Venice, whose merchants brought northern dried fish and delighted the local population with it. Over time, cod replaced other dried fish and became an indispensable component of fasting days before major holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
Here we bring two very traditional recipes for making cod:
Cod a la bianco (source: Women in Adria)
800 g of cod fillet
600 g of potatoes
3 cloves of garlic
2-3 sprigs of parsley leaves
3-4 stalks of celery
1 dl of white wine
0.5 l of fish stock or water
sprig of rosemary
salt and pepper
Cut the cod fillets into 3-4 cm long pieces. Peel the potatoes, cut them into thin slices and wash them under cold water. Peel and chop the garlic, not too finely. Wash and roughly chop the parsley leaf. Tear the rosemary. Wash and cut celery stalks into pieces. Heat the oven to 200°C. Place a row of potatoes in a deep fireproof dish, lightly salt and pepper them. Spread the fish on top of the potatoes and lightly salt it. Place celery stalks on the fish and sprinkle with chopped garlic. Sprinkle with olive oil and cover with a row of potatoes. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes. Pour white wine and fish stock or water over everything, enough to barely cover the last layer of potatoes. Crush the bay leaf with your fingers and sprinkle it over the potatoes.
Add some chopped parsley. Sprinkle with olive oil and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Put it in the oven. After 45 minutes of baking, remove the aluminum foil, add about 10 sprigs of rosemary and bake for about 15 minutes so that the top layer of potatoes catches a little color. Remove from the oven, place in deep plates and sprinkle with parsley. Sprinkle the dish with a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice.
Cod stew (source: Naša Kostrena)
cook and clean the cod
a few olives
Put the chopped garlic (2-3 cloves) on the warm oil so that it turns yellow. Add cod and saute. Then add a little flour, preserves and stir, arrange the sliced potatoes on the cod and pour water (with a little white wine) to cover the potatoes. "Shake" the padela (do not mix with the cooker), add salt and add 2-3 peppercorns and a few olives. When it is almost ready, sprinkle it with a mixture of finely chopped garlic and parsley and add olive oil. Cook a little more on low heat.