Salt cod and potatoes cooked in milk

Salt cod and potatoes cooked in milk

A la Grecque
Mark Roper

This recipe is inspired by one in Honey from a Weed, by Patience Gray, which is a timeless book of stories about cooking and eating in Italy and Greece. The Greeks call salt cod or ling ‘bakalao’. It is generally eaten in winter when fresh fish and vegetables may be scarce.

In her recipe, Patience Gray recommends using whole olives as she says that pitted olives can stain the pale colour of the dish. If you use whole olives you need to be careful as they can be tooth-breakers for the unsuspecting diner!


Quantity Ingredient
1kg salt cod or ling
1-2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
6 potatoes, cut into 1 cm slices
a few sprigs fresh oregano
freshly ground white pepper
500ml milk
125ml pouring cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
parsley leaves, finely chopped
chilli oil
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
12 black olives


  1. Soak the salt cod in cold water in the refrigerator for 24 hours, changing the water three times. Drain well and cut the fish into portions. Put the cod into a saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Add the bay leaves and bring very slowly to a gentle simmer. Do not let the water boil, or the fish will become tough. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to stand for an hour. Drain off the water. Remove the skin and bones and flake the fish.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast iron or heavy-based casserole dish. Arrange a layer of sliced onions and potatoes in the base of the dish and top with a layer of flaked fish. Repeat to create another layer then sprinkle with oregano and season with pepper. Pour on the milk and cream and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. By this time, most of the liquid will have been absorbed and what remains will be rather creamy.
  3. Sprinkle on the nutmeg, garlic and parsley. Add a few drops of chilli oil and cook for a few more minutes. Top with slices of hard-boiled egg and scatter on the olives just before serving.
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