Cod stew: that extra flavor of Roman cod

baccala guazzetto alla romana

Vicenza style, Venetian style, Neapolitan style, Livorno style, Catalan style. There are so many regional variations of preparing cod but the Roman-style stew (or stew) is certainly one of the oldest and tastiest. Cod in stew is a typical dish of Roman cuisine simple and tasty, often prepared for Christmas Eve for its particularly rich and full-bodied taste and its special aroma. Once a very expensive food that required a long preparation process, cod was in fact considered suitable for days of a certain importance.

Today cod is a much cheaper food than in times gone by and consequently its use has become more frequent; preparation times are equally long, at least in theory. In fact, already desalted cod is commonly found on the market, which is undoubtedly much more convenient.

However, to have a more intense flavor it is preferable to take classic cod. The cod must then be rinsed, cleaned of skin, bones and thorns, and then left in soak for three days remembering to change the water often and keep it fresh. Our fish will be ready when it has a soft consistency and when the pulp is no longer salty (the way to understand this is to taste a small piece). Once desalted, it should be cut into pieces of about 5 cm and the preparation of the actual dish will not take much time.

Roman-style cod probably derives from Jewish tradition which is why if you feel a sudden craving for this food, just go for a walk in the Ghetto of Rome to find many restaurants that cook this delicious specialty at any time of the year. In Rome, among other things, the love for this type of fish also translates into cod fillets, another delicious specialty of Roman cuisine. The Roman-style stewed cod is made special by the addition of some characteristic ingredients which give it a special touch different from other regional cod: let's talk about dried fruit such as raisins, pine nuts and sometimes prunes. Ingredients that give the cod prepared in Rome a sweet and sour flavor that is unique among other cod.

Its preparation is quite simple. The cod already cut into pieces should be placed in a saucepan in which a sliced onion has previously been browned in oil and some tomato sauce (or cherry tomatoes), olives, a handful of sultanas and a handful of pine nuts have been added. The cod should then be left to simmer for about 15 minutes, adding water from time to time to maintain the right consistency of the "guazzetto". The dish should be served hot and is perfect for the arrival of the first cold weather and for the entire winter season, perhaps to be accompanied by a glass of good red wine.