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salt cod

As in many southern Catholic countries in the days before refrigeration, salt and wind-dried cod played an important role in the diet, even in coastal communities.

There is some confusion in the names: in the Veneto and elsewhere, some people insist on calling dried cod baccalá and salt cod stoccafisso, instead of the other way around.

Among classic recipes you'll find the most famous dish from Vicenza:

baccalà alla vicentina: in spite of its name, this dish traditionally used dried cod (stock fish or stoccofisso), which was sprinkled with cheese and browned with butter, oil, anchovies and onions, and seasoned with parsley, pepper and milk, and served with slice of polenta.

baccalà conso: salt cod with tomato sauce is a speciality of Venice.

baccalà gaspé: cured cod filets (a method that uses less salt)

baccalà mantecato: 'whipped cod' is similar to the French brandade de morue, made with garlic and olive oil, usually served on strips of polenta, or crostini di polenta. This originally called for stocco fisso as well. Some versions include milk or cream. There's a 'confraternity' dedicated to the dish in Venice.

baccalà alla fiorentina: with tomatoes, onions and rosemary, served with toasted bread

baccalà alla romana: deep-fried, battered salt cod

baccalà alla siciliana: stewed with potatoes, tomatoes, capers and olives tomatoes. Baccalà alla napoletana is similar, only baked in the oven, sometimes with raisins and pine nuts added.

In Friuli they use pine nuts and raisins but leave out the tomatoes. With cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices, it's a rich baccalà alla cappucina, invented by monks.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: cucina buttalapasta