In my family the dried salted cod expert was granddad Remigio, my mum’s dad. My grandfather Remigio used to live all alone in San Gimignano. He brought my mum and Aunt Silvana up all by himself. He was a man of old times, a mason, but he was also very good at cooking. I still can taste his sliced meat breaded and fried then cooked with tomato sauce. It was soft and cooked in a red enamelled pan: it is an unforgettable memory.
He used to have a peculiar breakfast coming home from his vegetable garden: Tuscan bread, tomatoes and onion. He loved dried cod and herring: he used to fry herring in his tiny kitchen and you could tell it from miles – the whole house was surrounded by a pungent smell and a thick smoke.
This is how my grandfather Remigio used to cook salted cod. He would add potatoes to the traditional recipe: they were fried then cooked in tomato. Matched with the salted cod they were divine.
Dried cod following the Florentine's way
- 500 g dried salted cod, soaked
- 600 g ripe tomatoes
- 2 potatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ onion
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Parsley for garnish
- Cut the cod into 5 cm chunks. Pat them dry with some kitchen paper and flour them on both sides.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into thin slices, then flour them too. Fry the cod chunks in a large non-stick pan until slightly golden. At the end, fry the potatoes too.
- Set aside in a dish with some cooking paper to soak up the extra olive oil.
- In the meantime, make the tomato sauce. Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan with a whole garlic clove and some finely chopped onion. Add 2 tablespoons of water to cook the onion through: it is supposed to be tender. Add the tomatoes, cut into small pieces, season with pepper and cook for at least 15 minutes, until it becomes a liquid but thick tomato sauce.
- Put cod and potatoes in a greased saucepan and cover with tomato sauce. Add salt only if needed, usually the cod is already salted.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, so that all the flavours will be mixed together. Sprinkle with some parsley and serve hot.