Estockaficada

Dried Cod and Vegetable Stew

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • For

    6

    People

Appears in

The Cuisine of the Sun

By Mireille Johnston

Published 1990

  • About

This highly seasoned super fish stew made of dried cod has a place of honor in Nice: one of the most renowned culinary clubs of the city has borrowed its name. The club meets once a month to chat and taste a new interpretation of estockaficada.

“Stockfish” means fish that is literally “as dry as a stick.” The name “stockfish” (hence the term estockaficada) was originally applied to the dried cod brought to Nice by Norwegian sailors (who sometimes caught the fish in New England!) in exchange for olive oil and fresh vegetables.

To buy a substitute for stockfish, try to find the hardest, driest cod available (Italian and Spanish groceries are the most likely to have it), or buy the Chinese tai tze in 8-ounce packages. Since it keeps forever, keep a good amount in your kitchen ready for use.

In Nice the advice is to let the stockfish sit in a running creek for two days. Depending on the dryness and saltiness of the cod you buy, the soaking time can vary from one to two days.

Estockaficada is much better reheated after the cooked fish has marinated for a few hours in its pungent sauce. It freezes successfully.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds dried cod
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 large onions, minced
  • 3 bell peppers (green, yellow, or red) seeded and sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 8 tomatoes, fresh or canned, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 teaspoons savory
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cups dry white wine
  • 8 potatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
  • ½ cup olives (unpitted black olives from Nice or pitted oil-cured black olives)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • olive oil in small cruets

Method

If you use the very dry cod, let it soak in the sink in cold water or a large pot for two days and change the water four times. If you use the kind of cod most fishmarkets carry, one night of soaking is enough. In any case, always check with the shopkeeper on how long his particular cod needs to be soaked, and always taste before cooking it to see that it is tasty but not oversalty.

When the cod has been properly soaked, remove the tail, skin, and bones with your fingers. Shred the flesh with your fingers and let it marinate for a few hours in a dish covered with a layer of the olive oil (save the oil for using later in this recipe).

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil (or more, if necessary) from the marinade in a Doufeu or heavy-bottomed pan. Add the cod and sauté it, turning it over once with tongs or a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then the garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, savory, pepper, and wine. Simmer, covered, in the pan for 1½ hours. Add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes more.

Just before serving, add the olives and parsley. Check the seasoning once more (it must be highly peppered). Place the cruets of olive oil around the dinner table so that each person can crush his or her potatoes in the sauce and add a dash of olive oil to the dish.