Baccalà Mantecato alla Veneziana

Whipped Salt Cod in the Venetian Style


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Baccalà is dried salted cod, which needs 4 days of soaking in fresh cold water to reconstitute it, changing the water two or three times each day. This is not an easy dish to make, but you may have eaten it at one of the many bars and street-food outlets in Venice, and wondered how it was made. Should you have difficulty in getting the fish going, you can put it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and mash it with a fork to soften it enough to help you work with it. You could also make it using a food processor instead of a wooden spoon, but you will not achieve the same kind of lightness.


  • 1 kg/ lb salt cod, soaked for 4 days with the water changed regularly
  • about 300 ml/½ pint/ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 quantity polenta, cut into 12 squares, to serve


  1. Rinse the fish, then put it in a large pan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum. Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until tender (you may need to cook it for a little longer if it is still tough).

  2. Drain and cool. Once cold enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Transfer the fish to a bowl and break into flakes.

  3. ’Whip’ the fish with a wooden spoon, gradually adding extra olive oil in a fine, steady stream.

  4. Stop whipping when the fish is like whipped cream: white, and light and fluffy. The quantity of olive oil required will depend upon the greasiness of the fish and how good the oil is. Stir in the chopped parsley, garlic and pepper. Taste and add a little salt if necessary.
  5. Grill/broil the polenta on both sides for a minute or two, until golden and crisp.
  6. Serve chilled, sprinkled with parsley and accompanied by grilled polenta.