How to desalt salt fish before cooking

Salt fish needs to be soaked in water before it is cooked: this lowers the salt concentration.

  • Soaking must take place in a refrigerator, and usually it takes about three days.
  • Add fresh, cold water to a large container and place the salt fish in it.
  • We recommend using about 3 litres of water for each kilogram of fish, and the water should be changed at least three times during the soaking period.
    • If the fish is soaked in running water 24 hours is long enough.
    • If the water is changed only twice, five litres of water is needed for each kilogram of fish. The water is changed after 36 hours, 5–6 litres of fresh water are added, and the fish is soaked for a further 36 hours.
    • If the fish is soaked without changing the water then 18–20 litres of water is required.
  • The salt fish pieces may vary greatly in thickness. Desalting goes much faster if the pieces are thinner, and thick loin pieces take longer. It can be sensible to lengthen the soaking time until the pieces have all equilibrated with the soaking water.
  • Once soaking is completed, the salt fish should be stored as if it were fresh fish: it is no longer preserved by the salt. After rehydration, the salt fish should be frozen or kept chilled until it is cooked.