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Cod, a very popular dish in winter

Wiki Spanish Food editorial department

In addition to its status as the Lenten food par excellence and as a basic ingredient in stews and other meatless Lent recipes, cod is a popular dish in the winter months leading up to Easter.It has traditionally been one of Spain's greatest gastronomic ambassadors around the world, especially in famous dishes such as Vizcaya-style salt cod and cod with Pil Pil sauce.

This fish is important not just in gastronomic terms, but also culturally, from when the first cod arrived preserved in salt, to the small blue whiting that hung in salt in every corner grocery in the neighborhood, to the most advanced techniques for desalting cod.

This culinary gem comes from a large fish in the Gadidae family, which can weigh up to 40 kilos and are generally caught in northern waters, precisely because they are the coldest. Its flesh is delicate, white and flaky—the perfect consistency for just about every kind of recipe, both fresh or in salt.

It should always be stored cold at between 2 and 5 degrees, the ideal temperature used in shops and restaurants. It should also be translucent: when you put your hand between the cod and a light, you should be able to see the silhouette of your hand through the fish.

According to Néstor Luján, the word bacalao, or cod, appeared for the first time in Spanish as bacallao, in 1915. Its origin is uncertain, and some believe it could have come from the Latin cabellavus, used in Flanders in the 13th century.

In Spain there are up to 100 recipes with cod, and since it's fished throughout the Iberian Peninsula, it's said that in Portugal there's a recipe for every day of the year, or even more. Although cod is an especially popular component of Nordic cuisine, the southern variety is in a class of its own.

Cod can be oven roasted, braised in white wine, and poached in aromatic broth. The large species, which are the most abundant, are sold in fillets, slices and pieces. Its delicate fresh meat requires proper cooking, which is achieved when the fish releases a whitish liquid.

ADDRESSES

GURIA. Gran Vía de López de Haro, 66. Tel.: 944 415 780. Bilbao.

CIRCULO DE ZAMORA LA ORONJA. Santa Clara, 2. Tel.: 980 532 338. Zamora.

JOSÉ LUIS. Rafael Salgado, 11. Tel.: 914 575 036. Madrid

TRASMONTANA. Bolívar, 18. Tel.: 914 674 160. Madrid

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11/12/2014