A popular ingredient in Caribbean cuisine, saltfish is simply thatsalted, dried fish, usually cod, though other fish (such as mackerel) can be used. Saltfish is an integral ingredient in Jamaica's national dish, "saltfish and ackee." It's available in pieces in Caribbean, Italian and Asian markets. Choose segments with white flesh, rather than yellow; the skin should be attached. Store, wrapped airtight, in a cool, dark place indefinitely. Before using, soak for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water every 4 to 5 hours. The soaking softens the flesh and each water change reduces the salt. Drain the last batch of soaking water and pour boiling water over the saltfish; cover and allow to soak for about 15 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. The word for saltfish in Spanish is bacalao, in French it's morue and in Italian it's baccalà.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.