baccalà mantecato

I had this Venetian tapas served with drinks in Venice. It is unbelievably delicious and perfect as canapés and as an hors d’œuvre or just for lunch. It’s also been served on polenta in Harry’s Bar for decades. The salt cod is whipped to a smooth consistency with olive oil and slavered on crostini or polenta. You can now get salt cod in the international section in most supermarkets or in Caribbean, Spanish and Italian delis.


Makes enough for 6 people

  • 225g of dried salt cod 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced 
  • Mild olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 
  • A small sprig of parsley finely chopped 
  • Toasted bread or crostini


Firstly prepare the salt cod by soaking it in lots of water for 2-3 days in the fridge, changing the water three times a day. Drain and remove any skin and bones (mine had neither).

Place a pan of water on the stove and place the cod and a bay leaf in and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for half an hour. Discard the bay leaf and drain the cod thoroughly.

The next step can be done by hand or with a stick blender. Put the hot cod and garlic into a big bowl and beating constantly, start adding the olive oil as if making a mayonnaise, drop by drop to begin with. It’s finished when the cod has a light mousse consistency like whipped cream. If it starts to separate add some bits of white bread and continue to blend. The amount of oil can vary, so I haven’t put an amount.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve on very thin slices of crunchy toasted bread or crostini, sprinkled with the chopped parsley and a good grinding of black pepper. You can store it in the fridge for a few days.

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