How long is too long when desalting salted cod?
June 3, 2013 5:18 AM   Subscribe

I have been soaking cod outside the fridge (my first mistake?) for a little over 4 days now. Are we going to get sick if I cook it?
posted by bizwool to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
You need to soak it in the fridge and it needs to have the water changed frequently.

If it's over soaked it's going to have a yukky, wooly texture.

I don't think it's a good idea for you to eat the fish. Not only do I think it will make you sick, it won't taste good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:27 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It already smelled quite bad so I'm going to take your advice and throw this one out. Also I just noticed the skin seems to be falling apart. Not a good sign. Thanks for the link- for some reason I had a hard time finding accurate info online.
posted by bizwool at 5:32 AM on June 3, 2013

This is going to sound like the world's most poser answer, but I am for real. "When I was in Portugal," but really, I was, I had no one to tell me how to prepare the stuff (pre-home internet). Because my housemates took exception, can't imagine why, I soaked it outside the fridge and overnight only, or something like that, let's say 12 hours at most. It was fantastic and it didn't make me sick (this was in July, I remember, because I turned 21(!!) at the time).

On principle I'd say outside for a short time is fine (next time), because, after all, the stuff exists from a pre-refrigeration era.

It does smell terrible--I guess it depends on what kind of terrible.

Maybe we have some native eaters of salt cod around?
posted by skbw at 5:50 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Changing the water frequently is necessary so that you actually remove the salt. If you let it sit in the same water you're basically just brining it.
posted by beagle at 5:57 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Native eater of that stuff - yeah, in the fridge, a bit longer than overnight, changing the water. Would say 12 to 24 hours on the outside. I like it still pretty salty.

4 days??? And smelling? Ah, no. I would not consume that.
posted by gohabsgo at 6:19 AM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also recall that a lot of recipes amount to some kind of stew with cod as a garnish. On that fateful evening I made a dish with potatoes and a few stewed tomatoes. So massively salty fish just goes into a whole dish otherwise devoid of salt. Works fine.

Brandade de morue is all cod, all salt, you might recall, which is, I imagine, why you have it on toast or with some kind of crudite.
posted by skbw at 6:26 AM on June 3, 2013

Response by poster: I see now that clearly I had no idea what I was doing.
posted by bizwool at 6:35 AM on June 3, 2013

Yeah, I have prepared a lot of this stuff for museum work and the best method is, soak in several changes of water for 8-12 hours. Change the water about every 2-3 hours.
posted by Miko at 6:54 AM on June 3, 2013

My wife is Portuguese, and her mom soaks salt cod for 2-3 days, in a bowl that sits on the kitchen counter, changing the water every few hours. Last time we brought some back, I did the same, except I kept mine in the fridge since I have a counter-surfing Great Dane :)
posted by PlantGoddess at 8:21 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Forgot to say that I think 4 days is definitely too long, and also I am assuming we are talking about the 'planks' of salt cod, as opposed to the lil' wooden boxes of same that one can sometimes find in the grocery store.
posted by PlantGoddess at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: not sure what the wooden boxes contain shape-wise, but mine was already cut in chunks.
posted by bizwool at 9:56 AM on June 3, 2013

My people eat salt cod. I usually soak it overnight out of the fridge. Would probably change the water a couple of times in that time period. Wouldn't go near it after four days and stinkiness though. Ick. Try it again and have some fish cakes.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:36 PM on June 3, 2013

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