This way of preparing baccalà is traditional to Venice, where it’s called Baccalà Mantecato. Imported baccalà, salted cod, a classic European ingredient, is available from fishmongers and some delicatessens, but needs to be soaked for at least 24 hours in several changes of water to remove the excess salt. This alternative uses salted blue-eye trevalla, which saves time. Blue-eye trevalla used to be referred to as blue-eye cod, because the thick white meat does resemble the cod that is so popular in the northern hemisphere.
1 x 750g Blue-Eye Trevalla fillet, skin off, bones removed
½ cup coarse salt
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic
250ml extra virgin olive oil
Ciabatta, thinly sliced and toasted, for serving
Small olives, for serving
Spread half the salt on a large plate, place fish on top and spread remaining salt over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, turn fish, cover and refrigerate for another 3 hours. Wash off the salt.
Place fish in a large saucepan cover well with cold water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Strain and, when cool enough to handle, flake into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk.
Meanwhile, place bay leaf, thyme, garlic and milk in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to keep warm.
Place olive oil in a small saucepan and heat to around 70°C, it should be hot but not sizzling. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Discard bay leaf and thyme from milk and crush garlic into a paste. Add garlic paste to the fish. Turn electric mixer onto medium speed, slowly pour a little milk into the bowl, then a little oil, then more milk, then more oil, repeating until all the milk and oil has been used. Increase speed to high and beat for a further 2 minutes or so, until the mixture slaps against the side of the bowl.
Transfer to a bowl and serve with toast and olives.