Midsummer, a period centered on the summer solstice and celebrated by many Northern Europeans, is observed in June. Since we are well into summer, I wanted to make a pizza with an ingredient that is popular to that region. Salt cod has been produced by the people of the North Atlantic region since about the 1500s, and especially through the 1600s, when cheap salt became widely available to northern Europe. With a shelf life of several years, salt cod spread across the Atlantic through trade to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Salt cod is cod preserved by drying and salting. The old method of production required to expose them to the wind and sun by hanging them from beams or laying them out on rocks. Today, they are mostly produced indoors and dried by electric heaters. Unfortunately, because the world’s cod supply is being depleted, other white fish (like haddock) are dried and salted and sold under the label “salt cod”.
Because salt cod is dried and preserved with a tremendous amount of salt, it needs to be rehydrated and desalinated by soaking in fresh water. I’ve detailed a couple methods listed below in the following recipe.
Popular ways to prepare salt cod include frying them into croquettes or baking them into potato casseroles. I wanted to highlight the cod pieces in something a little lighter. Pizza dough provides a thin, crispy vehicle for the salt cod, along with delicate slices of potatoes, fresh greens like arugula or parsley, and a squeeze of a lemon at the end for brightness. A thin layer of tomato sauce adds the right amount of moisture, sweetness, and tang without overpowering the salt cod. Remember to prepare salt cod a day in advance if necessary.
Salt Cod Pizza
- ½ pound salt cod
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 medium golden potatoes, cut in 1/8” slices
- 1 pizza dough
- ½ cup pizza sauce
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 cup of arugula
- Lemon wedges
- Rehydrate and desalinate salt cod using one of the following methods:.
(a) Soak it in water for 24 hours, with water changed twice; or
(b) wash for 15 minutes in running water; place in pan covered with water and heat slowly (do not boil); pour off water; and repeat last process until fish no longer too salty to taste.
- If preparing pizza dough from scratch, follow your pizza dough recipe and set aside. Reserve ready-made pizza dough for step 7.
- Drain and rinse the salt cod after rehydrating and desalinating. Cover with milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop the cod to no larger than bite size. Place in a large bowl,
- Slice potatoes 1/8” thick and cover in water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and add to bowl with salt cod.
- Toss potatoes and salt cod with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, minced garlic, and pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Prepare ready-made pizza dough to desired shape. Spread pizza sauce thinly over uncooked pizza crust, leaving a ½” to 1” diameter at the edge. Layer potato slices evenly over the dough, and generously dot with salt cod pieces. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of cream and 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
- Bake pizza until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with arugula, and cut into slices.