Image by Marika Sartori


Ah, baccalà-- one of my favorite dishes. It's a classic Italian dish, made with salt-cured cod, which has been a staple of Italian cuisine for centuries. And it's so versatile! You can simply pan fry it, or add it to pastas and soups. Or, try something new and give it a Mediterranean twist by adding olives and capers.


What I most love about baccalà is how it strikes a perfect balance between subtlety and robustness. The delicate flavor of the cod is complemented by the tanginess of the salt-curing process. It also has an interesting but pleasing texture. The individual flakes easily come apart, but hold together beautifully when cooked.

To me, baccalà is comfort food. I grew up eating it – my mom always added garlic and parsley - and I still have fond memories of sitting around the dinner table. It's one of those dishes that evoke a feeling of warmth and nostalgia.

But don't be fooled by its humble origins! Baccalà can be dressed up to make an impressive dish that is sure to impress your guests. Why not try pairing it with a robust red wine like a Chianti Classico and some wilted spinach? Or, perhaps you'd like to serve it in a creamy sauce with slivers of lemon zest and cherry tomatoes? The possibilities are endless.

Whichever way you choose to prepare it, baccalà is sure to please. Even if you're not partial to fish, you'll find it surprisingly palatable. And you can always rely on it to bring a comforting, familiar feel to any meal.

The origin of Baccalà

The origin of the delicious dish Baccalà is steeped in mystery and intrigue. Through the centuries, many have tried to trace the origins of the delicacy with mixed success. While it is well documented that a type of salted cod dish has been around since the medieval period, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact roots of Baccalà specifically.

What is known for sure is that baccalà is native to Northern Europe, with particular ties to Italy, Portugal, and Norway. Some historians believe it came to Italy from northern European countries, while others suggest it was actually brought to Europe by Vikings during their raids.

The truth is obscured by the mists of time, but one thing is certain: the popularity of this delectable dish has endured and spread over the centuries, giving us the enchanting dish of baccalà we know and love today.

In the early days, the salting process of the cod was used to preserve it before widespread refrigeration was available. The lengthy salting process gave baccalà its distinctive flavor and texture, as well as its interesting name, which itself may come from a number of sources. In fact, some believe it derives from the Latin word “baculus,” meaning “stick,” referring to how the fish was sometimes tied together with sticks during the salting process.

Whatever its origin story, Baccalà has become a beloved part of numerous cultures and cuisines over the years. It’s been served variously pan-fried, deep-fried, stewed, and baked—each version carrying with it its own unique taste and texture.

Whether you’re a fan of the classic Italian version or an admirer of the bold twists in modern creations of the dish, it’s clear that Baccalà has captivated palates around the world for centuries, and its fascinating history continues to inspire and tantalize food aficionados everywhere.

FAQs about Baccalà

Is baccalà Italian or Portuguese?

Baccalà is Italian.

What does baccalà mean slang?

In Italian slang, baccalà literally means "codfish" but it is often used as a term of endearment, similar to “my love” or “sweetheart.”

What does baccalà taste like?

Baccalà has a mild, salty flavor and a firm texture. It can be eaten cooked or raw, and is frequently used in Italian cuisine as a main dish or to make fish-based sauces and salads.

What is baccalà made from?

Baccalà is a cured, dried, salted codfish dish that is popular in many Mediterranean countries. It is usually served with potatoes or vegetables and is often used in dishes like baccalà alla Vicentina.

Types of Baccalà

Ah, baccalà. It is an old fish dish, steeped in a rich and vibrant history throughout Europe - but its origins are often debated. Some say it originated in the Iberian Peninsula, while others claim that it dates back to ancient times in the Mediterranean. No matter where it came from, one thing is certain: this beloved fish dish continues to be enjoyed all over the world today.

At its core, baccalà is a salted cod. While there are many different preparations, the basic idea is that the cod is soaked in brine or salt water and then dried to remove most of the moisture content. The resulting product has a unique taste and texture that is incredibly flavorful and can be used in a variety of dishes.

The most common type of baccalà is the Italian version, known as baccalà alla Romano. This dish consists of rehydrated cod that has been cooked in tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil for a deeply savory sauce. Other popular variations include baccalà fritto, baked with plenty of garlic and olive oil, and baccalà marinara, where the cod is poached in a tomato-based sauce.

For those looking for something a little less traditional, there is baccalà alla vicentina, which uses sardines, anchovies, and garlic in a tomato-based sauce. And if you’re feeling adventurous, baccalà alla padella combines rehydrated salted cod with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and peppers.

For a truly unique take on the dish, try baccalà mantecato. This Venetian version takes the salted cod and adds butter, onions, and garlic to create a creamy, decadent sauce. Another interesting option is baccalà al forno, which features potatoes, raisins, and olives in a light, white wine-scented broth.

No matter which variation you choose, baccalà is sure to be a hit. A truly versatile ingredient that has been enjoyed for centuries, this classic fish dish will make for a tasty, memorable meal.