Salt cod

Salt cod

French Lessons
500 g
10 mins
Cooking time
6 mins
Steve Brown

A technique that originated in Norway, salt cod spread to become staple fare all around Europe because the heavy salting ensures it keeps for months – even years. In Australia you can buy imported salt cod from delicatessens; it’s as stiff as a board, hard as a rock and needs to be soaked for hours to remove the salt and make it suitable for cooking. These days, on-boat refrigeration means we are no longer as dependent on this method of preservation. In my view this is a good thing, as I think it destroys all the natural flavour of the fish. Here’s my modern method of salting; it just takes a few hours and I also add lemon and thyme to subtly enhance the delicate flavour of the fish. To cook, I poach it in aromatic milk until it is just cooked, but still translucent in the centre. Naturally you can also use this to make brandade. True North Atlantic cod is not available fresh in Australia, but you can use similar flaky, firmly textured fish such as blue eye, hapuka, warehou, bass grouper or mahi mahi.


Quantity Ingredient
100g sea salt
freshly ground white pepper
1 lemon, zested
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf, split in half
2 garlic cloves
500g north atlantic cod or blue eye fillet, skin removed
600ml milk


  1. Put the salt in a mortar with a generous grind of pepper, the lemon zest, half the thyme, half the bay leaf and 1 garlic clove. Pound thoroughly then rub the salt mixture all over the cod. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the milk to a gentle simmer with the remaining herbs and garlic clove. Rinse the cod gently then add to the pan and poach gently for 6 minutes. If using straight away, remove from the poaching liquor and break into rough flakes. Use the salt cod to make brandade or as a garnish for salads or egg dishes. Otherwise allow the cod to cool in the poaching liquor then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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