Bakalar

Similar to fritule, Bakalar is eaten in Croatia on days of fast; especially on Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

Bakalar is known in the UK as salt cod, the cod is salted and dried for preservation. In Croatia, they sell it in the supermarkets on the shelves as it is fully dried out (see here for an example). In the UK salt cod can be bought from Italian Delicatessens, but tends to be not quite as dried out.

The bakalar needs soaking for two to three days in water to rehydrate and remove the salt. Change the water frequently, and keep covered in a fridge.

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Remove as much of the skin and bones as you can, then place the code in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once it is soft enough, remove the flesh from the bones. Remove from the pan, but retain the liquid.

Peel a few potatoes, slice, and alternate layers of potato and cod in the saucepan.

When cooked, add plenty of good extra virgin olive oil, enough to make even Jamie Oliver embarrassed. The olive oil is one of the key ingredients in this dish, and needs to be good quality – look for a good green colour and fresh smell. We’re lucky to get home-pressed olive oil from Marijana’s relatives in Croatia.

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Don’t even think of mashing the mixture. In Croatia, the tradition is to firmly grasp the lid of the saucepan and shake vigorously; this breaks up the potatoes and mixes in the cod.

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Add a generous handful of parsley and four to five clothes of finely chopped garlic, and mix well together.

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The starch released from the potato, and the oil give a creamy consistency, and this is truly delicious. Season to taste, and enjoy with a glass of good white wine.

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