Stockfish Ib – soaking and cooking
June 30, 2010
The next day I realised that I had erred as I soaked the fish in cold instead of warm water. In the morning I changed the water in order to soak the fish in warm water for a few hours. As I returned to the fish six hours later it had more or less resumed the size and consistency of an undried fish. This means that at least after about sixteen hours in cold water, and six hours in warm water the fish had rehydrated enough to be cooked. I then proceed to boil the fish in the larger soapstone vessel. As the fish neared completion, I started a second pot in which I melted some butter together with the mustard seeds I had ground earlier. The choice of butter and mustard seeds as a condiment to the fish, does not only fit with the original medieval French recipe, but seem to have been a quite common condiment to fish at the time, and especially popular in the north of Europe. The Viking age connection is based on some finds of mustard from a few Scandinavian sites- Hedeby if I recall right.
After about an hour and a half to two hours, which would be consistent with the original recipe (see the previous post), I considered the fish to be more or less cooked and tried it with some of the butter.
When boiling the fish smelled a bit like the traditional swedish dish, lutfisk, but did not share that texture. Although similar to the fresh cod in taste, it also had some other qualities and was – despite falling apart- a bit more firm in the meat. Together with the salt from the butter it tasted quite nice, though I must admit that I lack the reference to regular ways of cooking stockfish.
Though the skin was almost coming of the fish I put it in the pot as a container for the meat, however after the rather long cooking time the skin was almost dissolved, so keeping it only proved it more difficult to serve a nice piece of fish. After cooking it I also noticed that the roe sack was remaining in the fish, why I probably should have removed it before cooking. All in all the fish could probably have done with a better cleaning than I did.
Anyway, after two hours of cooking much of the fish had fallen apart into smaller pieces, though some larger pieces could be taken out and served as one portion. That said, I would still consider this project somewhat successful, the medieval method of rehydrating and cooking the stockfish seem to work well. Still, I would need to try this a few more times before getting it nice enough to serve. Due to the strong stockfish traditions here, the experimentation with stockfish will probably continue.