Venetian style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta)

Baccala' alla Veneta

Baccalà alla Veneta (Venetian style Cod fish) is salted cod: codfish that has been dried and preserved in salt.  In the past it was considered the food of the poor, because cheap and not fresh.  The truth, though, is that nowadays is quite an expensive kind of sea food and well cooked baccalà is a delight: firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor.  Baccala' alla Veneta

I made Baccala’ this past Christmas Eve because it’s a traditional Christmas Eve’s dish in the Northern Italy, but I found the courage to post it only today, not because it’s hard to prepare, but just because it was a  little tricky to me explaining in English the method!

As I told already, Venetian Style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta) is actually stock fish or dried cod. What the rest of Italy calls stoccafisso the “Vicentini” call baccalà, simmered in milk until it becomes libidinously creamy. However, my recipe is unique* because as a child I’ve lived at the border between two Italian “counties” (province): Vicenza and Treviso, so my mother’s styled Baccala’ it’s a mix of the traditional recipes of these two areas.

Before starting with ingredients and method, be aware that Baccalà requires soaking ahead of time,  since it is heavily salted for preservation. Many Italian delicatessens sell pre-soaked baccalà on Fridays, but I recall my mom preferring to buy it and soak it herself, because cheaper, and because she could select the piece she wanted and tailor the soaking to fit it.

Here in Mid West I could easily find a “salted codfish” stored in 1 lb. sized wooden box. To prepare it, I rinsed the salt off and soaked it in cold water for 12 or more hours, depending upon its thickness (remember to keep it refrigerated during soaking,) changing the water 2 to 3 times. Once it has soaked, this kind of cod fish is ready to be cooked.

DIRECTION for a very big pan of baccala’

2 lbs. sea salted cod – 1 kg. baccala’

1 clove garlic – 1 spicchio d’aglio

1 lb. white onion  – 500 gr. cipolle bianche

1 pinch nut meg  – 1 pizzico noce moscata

about 1/4 gal. whole milk – 1 litro di latte intero

1 tbs. Italian parsley to taste – prezzemolo quanto basta

14 oz. Extra Virgin olive oil – 1/2 lt. olio extravergine di oliva

flour for breading – farina per la panatura

1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese – 100 gr. Parmigiano gratuggiato

7 anchovies – 7 acciughe


First of all make sure to have all the ingredients ready to go: peel and finely chop the onions, peel the garlic, wash and finely chop the parsley, grate the parmesan and pat dry the anchovies. Bread the cod fillets, previously pat dried.

In a very large nonstick pan heat about  8 oz. (250 ml.) Extravergin olive oil and garlic and then cook the cod filets on all sides until brow, at high heat. It will take about five minutes.

Once browned, throw the garlic away, move the cod filets in a plate, add a little of Extravegin olive oil to the same pan and cook the mix of onions, parsley and anchovies for about 5 minutes at lower heat, stirring every now and then to avoid burning.

After about 5 minutes, add the browned cod filets to the onion and keep cooking until the onion becomes translucent and the cod starts breaking in smaller pieces. Add the parmesan and the nutmeg and keep stirring occasionally until the onion is completely cooked. It will take about 8-10 minutes.

Warm up half of the milk (a couple of minutes in the microwave), move the mix in a oven pan, cover the mix with the milk and bake at 360 F (180 C) for about one hour. If after 30 minutes the cod seems too dry, add the rest of milk (previously warmed up). When done, your cod fish will have a yummy crunchy crust on top.

Let the cod cool off a few minutes and serve still warm, possibly sided with polenta.

OMG, this dish is simply heaven! Your house will smell delicious and not “fishy” at all!



– Venetian style Cod Fish usually crumbles on the plate when served and I wasn’t able to get a decent picture to post. That is why I used the one from the cook book my mom’s has taken as inspiration*, as feature image (sorry about that!). The book I am talking about  is called “Cucina e Tradizione nel Veneto“, it’s very old and probably not on the market anymore. It’s a collection of Venetian recipes written by the “ISTITUTI ALBERGHIERI DEL VENETO” and this is the cover’s picture:

– Venetian style Cod Fish is a very rich food (think about the quantity of olive oil needed). That’s why it doesn’t require special side dishes but polenta (or maybe a simple salad).

– Leftovers can be frozen and taste absolutely the same when thaw. I usually freeze it in small portions to have just enough for one meal.

– Some fancy Italian Bars serve Baccala’ as appetizer, scooped in small cups over a polenta serving. It warms the tummies and goes very well with “SPRITZ“.

– As I told you, while you soak the cod the previous day, you’ll have to keep it refrigerated. Well, if the baked cod smells delicious, the dried one smells terribly, so I would suggest to cover it with a plastic foil, and – if cold enough – to store it in the garage or in a second refrigerator away from kitchen and living room (LOL).







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Baked sea scallops au gratin: with shells is so much fancier!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice week (at least we finally had some sunny days here in IOWA).

Today I would like to share with you my recipe for baked scallops au gratin (Cape Sante gratinate). Maybe some of you don’t know that in Italy (and in other parts of Europe for sure) scallops are sold at fish markets still in their shells and in all their parts (not only the “abductor muscle”, the white meaty part but also the orange “coral”), and even when you go to eat sea food in Italian restaurants, scallops are always served in their shells and with their orange part (the roe or coral) still attached. I’ve surfed on the  web to try to find out the reasons why scallops in the Mid West are sold only out of their shells and without the roe, and some are economical (is much cheaper to commercialize scallops without their shells and inflated with water) and others are apparently for safety reasons. Anyway, in my opinion whole fresh scallops in their shell is something that should absolutely be tried at least once in life, because the taste is much better and intense (the roe is delicious, in taste it is very similar to the scallop muscle itself, only a bit more briny; which to some, is a major bonus)  and because – and I think you could agree with me – they look much more appealing!

By the way, you all know I live in the USA, so, to overcome my problem (sea scallops without the shell)  I bought the shells online and prepared my scallops the Italian way. Once again you will forgive me if the quantities of ingredients I will provide are just merely indicative because this recipe is one of those where I always eyeball the ingredients.  Remember to rinse your scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel before to place them in the shells. Preparing them will take just few minutes and baking time is approximately 20-30 minutes.  It’s the perfect appetizer for impressing your guests, or for a romantic dinner (don’t forget their aphrodisiac attributes).


12 scallop’s shells

12 fresh scallops washed and patted dry

fresh parsley finely chopped

about 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil

2-3 tbs. Brandy or Cognac

sea salt to tast

about 2/3 tbs. plain crumble bread

powdered garlic to taste (optional)

lemon slices for decoration


Rinse you fresh scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shells in a big (or two smalls) oven sheet and place the mollusks in the “corner” of each shell (this way the dressing you are about to add, will cover completely the scallops).

Prepare the dressing: in a 8 oz. sized bowl mix 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil, 2-3 tbs. cognac (or brandy), 1 pinch sea salt, a couple tsp. finely chopped parsley, 1 pinch powdered garlic and – one at a time – two or three tbs. crumbled bread.

Cover the scallops with about two tbs. of the dressing  and keep adding it until it’s all gone.Bake at 400 F. (200 C.) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your scallops will be ready when the dressing starts to become golden and crispy. 

Serve you scallops still hot with few lemon slices (some of your guests may like the idea of sprinkling few drops of lemon on top of their scallops) and don’t forget to warn about the temperature of the shells! They will be super hot!


TIPS: – some people panfry the scallops in butter or oil before baking them because apparently it gives it extra taste. In my humble opinion, if the scallops are really fresh, there is no need to add extra fat on them, they will be super tasty just baked!

– don’t try to speed up the baking process by heating the oven at more than 400 F. The excessive heat will burn the oil and the scallops will be ruined.

– Sea scallops can be a very nice appetizer but when I prepare them (my kids won’t touch them) for my husband and I, twelve are enough to fill up our bellies!

– The scallop dressing is absolutely delicious so when you serve them, don’t forget to leave on the table a big bread loaf… you’ll need the bread to clean up the shells! YUM!

– The shells I bought are dishwasher proof, so I can wash and reuse them each time!

Tell me, have you ever eaten scallops in their shells? with or without coral ?

How did you like it the most?

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, leave a comment to support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my weekly recipe directly at your email address!





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