Tag Archives: Christmas Eve fish recipes



It is hot in Australia at this time of year and I am certainly not going to cook this popular and traditional Italian, New Year’s Eve dish – Cotechino e lenticchie – but some of you who are steeped into tradition may consider cooking this in hot or cold weather. If you do, make sure that as you dig into that sausage, you make a wish for the new year (it must be before midnight).

I cooked it last winter. Perfect for the cold weather. I first published this post on Dec 9th 2015 and it is time to publish it once more.

Cotechino is rather a large sausage which has a proportion of it made with some of the gelatinous meat from the pig trotter.  Lenticchie are lentils- the ordinary green lentils. Cotechino e lenticchie is a dish that is more common in the north of Italy. I do not think that it is very common in Sicily, however as a result of media and recipe books and travel, food habits change, recipes evolve.


Just as we have adopted Panettone and Panforte at Christmas time in Australia, I gather that it is fairly hip to cook Christmas Pudding in Italy. So what do we think of that!
You will ned to visit an Italian delicatessen or butcher to buy a Cotechino sausage. If you live in Melbourne I go to Fairfield or Carlton. If you live in Adelaide Marino Food and Meat store at the Central Market. I know about and have visited Eataly in New York and they would definitely have it.

Cooking Cotechino and Lentils is very simple, and delicious. The onion, carrot and celery are the Italian usual suspects when making broth or a soffritto (from soffriggere – to lightly fry – the soffritto refers to the sautéed vegetables that are the basis for most braises, pot roasts and soups.)

This is definitely one of those dishes where you can add 1 kilo of lentils if you wish – it depends what proportion of lentils to cotechino that you prefer. Have a look at my photo and decide.

1 cotechino sausage
700 g of lentils
1 onion
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 peeled tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves – I always prefer fresh, but i have a bay tree growing in a pot on my balcony  – you may not be as lucky.

Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes.
Sauté the chopped celery, carrot, onion in the hot oil till golden. Drain the lentils and add cold water to cover them well.
Add peeled tomatoes and bay leaves, cover and cook them and cook over low heat until cooked.
In a separate pan add the sausage to cold water- sufficient water to cover the cotechino, bring it to the boil and then simmer it until it is cooked but not split – say 50 minutes.
Skim some of the fat off the broth, cut the sausage into thick slices, add them to the lentils with as much of the broth as you wish and serve.


The flavours will intensify over the next few days so appreciate the leftovers – you could add more of the broth (from the cotechino) and eat it as soup. Great stuff, especially for those who are living in a cold climate!


I have mentioned Panforte ( sweet). For recipe see:

Other Christmas recipes for sweets:

Fish for Christmas (especially Christmas Eve):


Meat and other Christmas specialties:

My family always had brodo at some stage on Christmas day:

And there are so many other seafood, meat, vegetables and pasta recipes on my blog.



STOCKFISH and SALT COD -The differences between stoccafisso and baccalà and recipes.

baccala seller Syracuse c copy

I have had a request  from a reader for how to cook stockfish (stoccafisso  or pescestocco in Italian and piscistoccu in Sicilian). She plans to cook it for Good Friday.

There are two recipes for how to cook salt cod (baccalà) on the blog already (see links below) and these recipes can also be used for stockfish (stoccafisso).

What I have not done on my blog is to  say what the differences are between stoccafisso and baccalà. The photo above  was taken in Syracuse. The seller is selling baccalà (the large fillets of white fish).

Stoccafisso and baccalà are popular all over Italy, from north to south.

Baccala`is cooked all over Sicily, but stoccafisso is particularly popular in Messina (n0rth-eastern corner of Sicily).

Although at times stoccafisso and baccalà are used interchangeably in recipes, they are different.


Stoccafisso is air-dried, without salt, and the fish can be cod, haddock or hake. It is dry and hard and usually sold as a whole fish, complete with bones and skin.( In the photo above Stockfish is hanging from the top of the counter at Mercato in Adelaide).

Baccalà is salt-cured cod. In Spanish it is bacalao, in Portuguese bacalhau, in French morue, and it is made from various varieties of cod: cod, ling, saithe and tusk. It is relatively moist and tender and usually sold cut into sections rather than a whole fish. It is skinless, boneless and white. Although baccalà may appear initially to be more appealing, there are no added ingredients in the processing of stoccafisso and it has a more delicate flavour than baccalà.

Stoccafisso and baccalà can be cooked many ways and were usually eaten on days of abstinence (Fridays and during Lent, especially on Good Friday ) when meat was not to be eaten by Catholics. Christmas Eve is also  a very popular time to eat stoccafisso or baccalà .

To prepare both the stoccafisso and baccalà rinse well and soak it in cold water for 20–24 hours, minimum, depending upon its thickness (refrigerate it in hot weather). Change the water 2–3 times daily. I have seen recipes that suggest soaking the fish for 48 hours – time you soak it depends on the quality and age of the fish, but it will not suffer too much if it is soaked for longer.

Once it has soaked, rinse the fish well. If it is stockfish, skin it, pick out the bones and cut it into large pieces (130mm) and it’s ready for use.

Baccalà generally takes longer to cook than stoccafisso but it will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Stoccafisso and baccalà require soaking in water before cooking: stoccafisso needs soaking for several days to rehydrate it and baccalà requires an equal amount of time to remove the salt. Most Italian and Spanish food stores sell pre-soaked stoccafisso or baccalà and is ready to use.  Remove cartilage, bones and skin of the stockfish before cooking.

This photo was sent to me by a friend. They are the racks used to dry stockfish near Honningsvåg in  Norway.


Carmela, one of my parents’ friends, cooked stoccafisso alla ghiotta for me many years ago in Adelaide. Originally from Messina, Carmela came to Australia as a young woman. Her version had tomatoes in it, but it can be cooked without tomatoes as well and called in bianco (white/ without tomatoes).


stock fish, 1 kg
tomatoes, 500g peeled, seeded, and chopped (or 1 cup passata)
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
celery heart, 2-3 pale green stalks and leaves, chopped
onion, 1 large chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley, cut finely, 4 tablespoons
green olives,1 cup, pitted, chopped
capers, ½ cup salted variety, soaked and washed
potatoes, 500g peeled and cut into large chunks

Baccala while soaking

Soak the stockfish and prepare it according to the instructions above.

For la ghiotta:

Add the celery and onion to hot, extra virgin olive oil. Use a pan large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to cook evenly.
Reduce the heat to medium; add the capers, olives, and flat leaf parsley and stir well.
Add the tomatoes, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, stir, and cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavours.
Place the fish in the sauce (preferably in a single layer) and spoon some of the sauce over it.
Reduce the heat to very low – the fish should not be stirred or it will flake. Cover, and cook for about 20 minutes before adding large chunks of potatoes. If you are using baccalà instead of stoccafisso you may need to cook it a little longer.
Add 1–2 cups of water and leave undisturbed to cook, but occasionally adding a little more water to keep the ingredients moist and until the fish and potatoes are cooked to your liking.
This dish is always served hot, but can easily be reheated if cooked beforehand.
Recipes are from my first book: Sicilian Seafood Cooking:
Baked baccalà 
Aggiotta di baccalà in bianco

Photo below was taken in Macau where I saw many baskets of cod drying in the street.