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Polenta cubes, baccalà mantecato, capers and olives

The Italian version of brandada

ingredients for 4 servings (cost about 4 € pp)
  • 300 g cod
  • 150 g very gentle olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • black pepper
  • 120 g polenta
  • 10 ml very gentle olive oil
  • 20 gr parmigiano
  • 16 leaves fresh mint
  • 16 capers
  • 8 black olives
  • pepperoncino flakes

In Northern Italy, instead of brandada (made in Portugal, Spain and France), they prepare a raw version of the dish, the baccalà mantecato. I will never forget the fantastic “tartine” with this cod cream I ate at Già Scchiavi, a snack bar (bacaro) in Venice old town.

As in brandada preparation, it is very important that all ingredients are in room temperature as the cod must absorb the oil and form an homogeneous cream.

We first wash the cod piece under running water to remove the salt which is found at the exterior part. We then cut the cod in pieces and put it in a large container with plenty of cold water and we leave it IN THE FRIDGE, for at least 48 hours, changing the water every approximately 12 hours. I think it is self-evident that the water has to be always very cold.

When the cod is well desalted we continue our preparation. We always must be sure that the fish is not too salty. After this procedure we can keep the cod in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, not more because the water starts to create bacteria.

Oh, I forgot. We also have to soak the capers in cold water to remove their saltiness and the bad odours of the preservatives and to pit and cut in halves the olives.

We remove the cod from the fridge, we add it in a small casserole with cold water and the garlic clove and we simmer it for about 20-25 minutes, removing constantly the foam with a skimmer. We take the cod out of the water and we let it completely cold. We also keep about 100 ml of cooking liquid as it is full of proteins and it will help us bind the cod cream.

We add in a bowl the cod and we melt it with the immersion blender. We start adding oil (if we don´t have very gentle olive oil I suggest the use of EV sunflower one) and cooking liquid till we create a very light and pleasant cream. We add some pepper, we check if the salt is OK and we put in the fridge for half an hour.

Meanwhile we prepare the polenta. We boil 800 ml of water, mineral or filtered of course. We slightly salt it and we start adding polenta while at the same time we stir with the whisk. We bring to full boil and we immediately lower the heat. Stirring often we continue cooking the polenta till the liquid will be absorbed by the flour. Just before cooking end we add the 10 ml oil and the cheese. We check the saltiness and we pour it in a square pan to cool completely.

We finish the polenta. We cut it in small squares and we put them in very hot oven for 10 minutes.

We arrange four cubes of polenta on each plate, we cover them with cod cream, we garnish the cream with a caper, half an olive, pepperoncino flakes and a mint leaf and we serve.


Published in FISH