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  • Immagine del redattoreCarolien

Salted cod in the Italian way: Stoccafisso.

When we spent last Christmas vacation in our beloved Liguria and ordered a local dish at our regular spot, I thought: I should delve into this. What about stoccafisso, baccalà, and as they call it in our region, brandacujun?

Stoccafisso sounds almost the same as the Dutch stokvis. The pronunciation of the Italian "ca" is indeed a "k". The word originates from Old Dutch stocvisch - fish (usually cod) dried on a stick, not salted. Not to be confused with klipvis: also cod, but salted directly on board of fishing vessels and dried on land on the rocks (klippen). In Italian, this is called baccalà. The difference lies not in the type of fish but in the method of drying and whether or not it is salted.

Especially the latter affects the preparation. The stockfish, which has become rock hard through drying, needs to be tenderized by beating, to break the fibers and regain the soft texture after soaking. Stockfish is soaked for 48 hours in water that you change several times, before you can use it in a dish. Baccalà is soaked for 24 hours due to its high salt content, in water or milk. Both can then be baked, fried, served in a tomato sauce, or stirred into a creamy puree. And in Italy, you can also buy them already prepared, skipping the beating and soaking.

The most confusing part is that the terms stoccafisso and baccalà are often confused because in the region to which Venice belongs, the Veneto, for example, you eat baccalà everywhere that is actually stoccafisso. In Liguria, pureed stoccafisso is mixed with mashed potatoes and then appears on the menu as brandacujun. Ligurian dialect for the turning (brandare) of a creamy puree, performed by the least intelligent of the family, the cujun, because he couldn't do anything else...

And then, in Italian, stoccafisso is also used figuratively for a 'lean and dry person', or in Dutch: a stiff person. Do you still get it? I love language!


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