Salt cod is sold in filets or in sections cut from the filet. The abdominal section, although passable in recipes calling for poached, flaked cod, is often discolored and, in any case, is inferior in quality to the thickest part of the tail section—it is altogether unsatisfactory for preparations requiring pan-fried pieces. Buy, preferably, high up on the tail and choose that which is whitest. The Icelandic salt cod is the kind most often used in France.
Salt cod is considered a vulgar thing by most people, which does not prevent a great many from adoring it—those who do not may always have tasted it boiled, dry and woolly, or have never tasted it at all. In those parts of the world where it forms an important part of the diet, it is rarely soaked long enough for the unaccustomed palate. (Some Provençal cookbooks offer, as a sort of folklorique curiosity, a recipe for unsoaked salt cod, wiped free of surface salt and grilled over hot coals, accompanied by potatoes in their skins and whole heads of garlic roasted in the ashes. Plenty of chilled rosé is necessary to wash it down, and it is much more current fare than one might imagine.)