Christmas is coming so it’s time for some traditional festival food in Dubrovnik, no not turkey, it’s time for cod! This Norwegian speciality is actually a treat at Christmas in Dubrovnik. Cod is dried and shipped from Scandinavia and then given a few special twists before being served around the festive time. It isn’t a Christmas Day meal but on the lead up to Christmas its really popular.
The standard classic recipe is called “Bakalar”, which is dried cod and potatoes. It is relatively easy to make but takes a bit of preparation so you’ll need to get organised. You can find this dried cod, which normally comes from Norway, at all supermarkets in the city and the prices and usually uniform. Although it is cod that you are using, yes the same fish in fish and chips, it is dried and salted and offers a completely different flavour than you might expect.
And in this season of goodwill the Dubrovnik Tourist Board annually organises the “Codfish Days.” From the 21st to the 24th of December various restaurants throughout the city will be tailoring their menus to include a splattering of cod dishes. Yes, the restaurants involved tend to get a little creative, so apart from the Bakalar there is also cod soup, pate, foam, cream…and so on.
Nine Dubrovnik restaurants are involved in the Codfish Days this year - Gradska Kavana (City Cafe) Arsenal, restaurants Dalmatino, Glorijet, Klarisa, Magellan, Mezzanave, Orka, Orsan and in the Christmas cottage ˝Gulozarije˝ at Pile. Download the menu on this link.
Feel like making your own "Bakalar" - here is the way to do it!
Follow this to make the perfect codfish
Soak the kilo of salt cod in lukewarm water for two days, changing the water twice a day. After soaking, do not remove the skin and bones. Place cod in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt to taste, pepper to taste, 1 bay leaf, and 8 lemon slices rind removed. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour or until tender.
Take the cod out of the water and remove the skin and bones, and discard, but reserve the water. Break the cod into pieces. In a separate saucepan, cook the potatoes with the skin on. When tender, but not mushy, remove potatoes and peel as soon as cool enough to handle.
Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices or quarters and set aside. Put what remains of the 1/2 cup olive oil, 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic, 1 large finely chopped onion, and pepper to taste in a large skillet. Sauté garlic until soft and then add the fish, potatoes, and as much reserved cooking water as necessary to achieve a consistency that is not too dry. Cook over low heat until heated throughout and flavours have married, about 15 minutes.
Add more oil, if necessary. Garnish with 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Can be eaten warm or at room temperature.
1 kg of salted dried codfish 1/2 cup olive oil Optional: Salt (to taste) Optional: Pepper (to taste) 1 bay leaf 8 slices lemon (rind removed) ½ Kilo potatoes 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped) Optional: 1 large onion (finely chopped) 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)