Salt cod products are especially popular in most regions of Italy, France, Spain, and Greece, but curiously nonexistent in the southern Mediterranean, for some reason. The difference between the two cod products, baccalà and stoccafisso (or stoccofisso), is that stoccafisso is air-dried without salt, as opposed to baccalà. From early times, Italy's salt and air-dried cod has come from northern countries in a trade dating back a millennium. In fact, both Italian words, baccalà and stoccafisso, probably derive from the Dutch.* The Italians would trade wine, cloth, and spices among other things for salt cod.
Both cod products are sold with the bone in or out or in chunks. Salt cod is more commonly found in America than stoccafisso and, being salted, needs soaking in water to remove the salt. Salt cod needs to be soaked in cold water for two to three days, changing the water two or three times a day. Some salt cod products are pre-soaked and will be so labeled. Any cartilage, bone, or skin can be removed at this point. It is now ready for use in the recipe.
|* Baccalà, from Old Dutch and stoccafisso from the Middle Dutch through the Norwegian.|