Bacalao con Samfaina | Cod with Vegetables from Catalan, Spain
With all these lovely vegetables hitting the market stands now, if you love ratatouille and you love salted cod, there is no dish that brings the two together quite like this version from Catalan.
I hate stereotyping this dish into ‘ratatouille with fish’ but quite honestly, it’s got all the same veggies; zucchini, squash, onions, peppers, and baby eggplant but just not with as many tomatoes.
The pan-fried bacalao here changes everything! Several times, I reached out for the can of smoked dulce paprika on my shelf and had to stop myself. So glad I let the dish go all the way through. Once the fish gets added into the stewed veggies, it goes from 'meh' to yummy.
Seriously, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Bottom line, I love this dish. It's great on flavor and so easy on my pocketbook. A pound of bacalao all boned and skinned in the little wood box runs me $9.99 and feeds 6 or with teenage boys, four! Big servings for four mind you.
With all the summer bounty from local farms, these ones going on my monthly rotation.
What about you?
Bacalao con Samfaina | Pan-Fried Cod with Vegetables from Catalan, Spain
1 lb. dried salt cod (boneless and skinless)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt & ½ tsp ground black pepper, for seasoning flour
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, for pan-frying fish
½ cup olive oil
Yellow onions, to yield 2 cups finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 small (Italian) eggplants
1 yellow squash
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 cup of water
1-1/2 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
Salted cod: Soak for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 24 hours in plenty of water. Change and replace with fresh tap water 3-4 times in this period.
Once ready to use, dry between kitchen paper towels. Once dry, cut into 3” pieces and set aside.
Flour: Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and set aside close to the stove with the fish.
In mixing bowl #1:
Onion: Discard woody top, bottom and skin. Chop and set aside.
Green & Red bell peppers: Discard woody top, membranes, and seeds. Chop into ¼” pieces.
Garlic: Crush and chop
Set aside all the above ingredients in the mixing bowl #1.
In mixing bowl #2:
Eggplant: Cut off ends, peel, and cut into ¾”-1” cubes.
Zucchini & squash: Cut off ends and cut into ½” cubes.
Tomatoes: Cut and discard woody tip. Chop.
Set aside these ingredients in the mixing bowl #2.
Pour 1/4 cup oil into heavy-bottomed frying pan and heat over medium heat.
Coat the fish in the seasoned flour and pan-fry the fish in the hot oil. Sear and brown to a nice golden brown on both sides.
Remove from the frying pan and set aside on a platter.
Wipe the pan down thoroughly with paper towels and run under tap if necessary to remove all black and burnt flour from the pan. Wipe clean with paper towels and return the pan to the stove.
Add 1/3 cup olive oil to the pan. Heat on medium-high heat.
Add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers into the frying pan and sauté with ½ tsp salt.
Add the remaining vegetables & salt and sauté for approx 10 minutes until the vegetable begins to look a bit tender.
Add 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook on medium-low heat for approx 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir the vegetable. Taste the eggplant to make sure it is tender.
Add the fish gently, one piece at a time into the frying pan and spoon the vegetables over
Allow the fish to stew with the vegetables for approx. 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
Serve with crusty bread or boiled or roasted potatoes.