After about 40 hours or so of soaking, I think I am making progress. I just drained off the water for the 4th or 5th time and had a little taste test. As hoped, the thinner side pieces I managed to cut off are still a little salty to the taste, but almost acceptable – I think they may be useable this evening.
The main body of the fish is still too salty, but has softened to the point where it can be curled up in the tub, and I will be able to cover it with rather less water than before – only 6 inches deep, rather than 8 or 10 inches. They say that bacalhau is very cheap food – I will reserve judgment till I see my water bill for this month!
I have had much advice and sympathy from friends and colleagues, for which I am very grateful! One e-mail from a colleague shared wisdom from her mother, who had just celebrated her 79th birthday, so this woman speaks from experience! She sent along this little diagram of the way to cut the whole fish, and advised:
The cut is very important, because the thinner parts will only need one day in the water and the thicker ones will have to be in the water for 2 or 3 days. Water should be changed once or twice a day. The more often you change the water the quicker the process is.
Use the lombos (the loins, or thick meaty parts) to boil or assar no forno ou grelhar (roast in the oven or grill). The fins are good boiled or fried. The thinner parts may be used for dishes where bacalhau comes ‘in pieces.’
This confirms the other thought I had – which is next time, either I buy it in pre-cut pieces, or if I am again gifted with a whole fish, I will go visit my beloved butcher and beg his assistance cutting it up before I start soaking. My knife is ruined after Thursday night’s efforts, I will have to take it to a proper knife grinder to see if it can be saved!
Meanwhile, little darling is now tucked back into his bathtub, and since I am not working today except from home, I can change the water more frequently and hope to have my Christmas Eve supper sometime on Christmas Day.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go make a pizza for lunch!