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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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salt cod is cod which has been salted, usually dry salted (as opposed to being steeped in liquid brine), and then partially dried. After the salting, the water content of the fish will be just under 60 per cent; after the drying, around 40 per cent. (stockfish is cod which has simply been dried, to the point where water content is around 15 per cent and it is hard like a stick.) Depending on the degree of treatment, salt cod may have a white ‘frost’ of salt on it, or be creamy in colour.

One point which stands out from the table is that in some languages the same word is used for ‘cod’ and ‘salt cod’. These are languages of people who do not have fresh cod swimming in their waters and who have a long tradition of eating salt cod. So far as they are concerned, cod is salt cod! That goes for the Portuguese and the Spaniards. The French are in a different position, since they have a N. Atlantic coast as well as a Mediterranean one, and it is in French that the greatest possibilities of confusion exist. They use the word morue for salt cod, but also speak of morue fraîche, which is fresh cod, and in the north they have a completely separate and different name for fresh cod, ‘cabillaud’. The French also possess one of the best known of all salt cod dishes, Brandade de morue (see brandade).