There are important things you must know to desalt salt fish properly. All salt fish needs to be properly soaked to extract the excess salt. So before cooking it, you’ll need to desalt it. How to soak cod is similar, soaking salt fish in general follows the same principals.
To desalt salt fish you need to use cold water
A few things you will need to correctly desalt your salt fish are:
- A bowl or recipiente, big enough for the fish cutlets and as much water as possible. Using a small bowl or recipiente will slow down desalting, so choose the correct size;
- Ice bottle or very cold water (+2ºC)
After buying your salt fish cutlets or the whole fish, you will need to think ahead. It can take up to 3 days to desalt, depending on the thickness of the cutlet. So plan ahead to make sure your salt fish is ready to cook when you need it.
The soaking process will basically extract the salt from the fish. The water absorbes the salt, however the saturation point of water is very low. Therefore several water changes are required to insure that desalting is made properly.
Wash the excess salt from the cutlets before soaking. Place them at the bottom of the bowl or recipiente with skin facing up. Fill with cold water, and place the ice bottles to maintain the cold water temperature.
If possible place the bowl or recipiente in the refrigerator. Soaking salt fish in warm water will create an odor that will tag along the fish forever. It’s not spoiled but the odor may be intense and unpleasant. So follow step by step these instructions and all will work out just fine.
How long does it take to desalt salt fish?
No easy answer to this question. It depends on the thickness of the cutlets, the quantity of water used and the number of water changes done during the soaking process.
I can give you some ideas, which you with practice will certainly master to perfection:
- dried salted fish bits and pieces (migas) : 12 hours in water, possibly one change in between;
- dry and salted fish cutlets small size (includes wings and tails, small loins and cutlets): 24 hours with 2 water changes;
- salt dried fish cutlets medium size (includes loins and cutlets): 36 hours with 3 water changes;
- dry salted fish cutlets big size (includes loins and cutlets): 48 hours with 4 water changes;
- dry salted fish jumbo loins (from fish with more than 4,0 kg): 72 hours, water changes every 12 hours
Don’t forget to desalt salt fish! Cooking without extracting the salt may spoil your wonderful recipe. This applies to all salt fish from codfish to makayabu.