There are some dishes that are amazing because of their complexity and then there are those that are amazing because of their simplicity. This salt cod omelet is one of those dishes that is very easy to make with only a few simple ingredients, but that is immensely flavorful, satisfying and totally addictive. Every bite of this omelet is full of flavor and texture: the eggs are nicely browned on the outside and slightly creamy and gooey on the inside, the cod adds a slight chewiness and a right amount of salt and umami, while the caramelized onions give off a complementary sweetness.
My version of ‘salt cod and eggs’ was born after watching chef David Chang make his version in an episode of the first season of The Mind of a Chef. I myself am not a stranger to the combination of soft eggs and salted fish – they are my ultimate favorite ingredients to add to fried rice! – so, watching David Chang make his salt cod omelet immediately triggered a craving in me for this near-magical combination of salty fish and gooey egg… Luckily, at the time, I had some leftover rehydrated and desalinated salt cod laying at the back of the freezer for some weeks after Lent*, so I quickly whipped up the slightly adapted version of Chang’s salt cod omelet you will find below – a dish that has become a staple in our house both as a hearty lunch and as a light meal.
*Why I mention salt cod in relation to Lent? In Spain, and maybe more famously in Portugal, but also here in Greece, salt cod (bakaliaros / Μπακαλιάρος in Greek) traditionally was a staple during Lent when people abstained from eating meat and dairy. Nowadays, in Greece, on certain days during Great Lent it is still customary to eat deep-fried battered salt cod with skordalia (garlic sauce) even for those that are not doing Lent; to be more specific, fried salt cod is usually eaten on March 25th, the day of The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, which is next week as I am writing this post. If you are interested in that particular way of eating salt cod, you can find my recipes for bakaliaros and skordalia here and here.
On rehydrating the cod: unlike Chang whom uses milk to rehydrate and desalinate the cod, I simply rehydrate and desalinate the fish in water. Read more about rehydrating and purchasing good quality salt cod in this post here.
Tip #1: to create thick fluffy omelet that’s nice and soft in the middle, use a smallish high-rimmed frying pan, rather than a large flat frying pan.
Salt Cod Omelet / Tortilla de Bacalao
- 250g salt cod fillet, rehydrated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 5 large eggs
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
MethodImportant: the salt cod needs to be rehydrated for about 36 hours before it’s ready to use. Link to instructions on how to do so in post above or follow the shortened instruction below. Preparation time listed does not include rehydration process.
- Prepare the salt cod a day ahead: Soak the salt cod for at least 24 hours up to 36 hours in cold water. Change the water about every 6 hours. When the salt cod has desalinated and rehydrated, drain the cod and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove skin and bones if it has any. Gently squeeze out any excess water and set aside.
- Prepare the caramelized onion: Cut the onion in half and cut into thin half-rings. Heat up a frying pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion until softened and slightly browned (will take at least 15 minutes for some good color). Remove the onion from the pan and set aside.
- Frying the cod: Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and add your pieces of salt cod. Stir fry for 5 minutes, or until the cod is almost fully cooked, then flake into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped garlic, the chopped flat leaf parsley and some freshly ground black pepper. Sauté for another minute then add the caramelized onions back to the pan.
- Adding the eggs: In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add eggs to the pan with the other ingredients. Stir very gently for some seconds to make sure the egg and ingredients are well distributed.
- Cooking the omelet so that it’s cooked on the outside and soft in the middle: While most of the egg is still uncooked, gently fold the slightly cooked parts of egg from around the edges into the middle of the omelet with a wooden spoon and gently stir the mixture in the middle to create some fluffy folds (see photo). Then leave the omelet without touching it until the edges begin to set again.
- To serve: when the edges of the omelet have set and slightly browned and the middle of the omelet is warm, but still slightly soft, place a plate the size of the pan on top of the omelet and quickly flip around (watch out! this can get a little tricky with all the oil and soft egg). Drizzle on some extra olive oil (optional) and it’s ready to serve!