Recipe: Baccalà Fritto For Christmas Eve Seafood Dinner

Seafood is essential to the traditional, meatless Christmas Eve (La Vigilia) dinner in Italy. Chef Gianluca D’Esposito is well-known for the mouthwatering uber-fresh seafood dishes he whips up at Ristorante Michel’Angelo on the island of Capri. Chef Gianluca and his wife Holly joined us live for a wonder Italian Christmas Seafood virtual workshop. You can purchase the workshop here and receive both the full class recording and recipe ebook.

Every region of Italy has its own unique way to enjoy this staple. In Southern Italy you’ll often find Baccalà cooked with a tomato sauce with capers and black olives (similar to puttanesca sauce), while at Christmas time its most commonly served fried. Simple, quick and delicious although it’s important to be prepared; it requires soaking for 2-3 days to de-salt before cooking.

Serves 4 people


  • 2.2 lb (1 kg) of cod fillets
  • 7-10.5 oz (200-300g) of 00 flour for dusting
  • 4 cups of peanut, sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
  • 3-4 lemons
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 1/2 small lettuce, arugula or other preferred leafy green for garnish
  • Pinch of salt


  • De-salt the boneless cod fillets; either purchase from your fishmonger de-salted or immerse in water for 2-3 days (changing the water 3 times a day).
  • Cut the lemons into wedges, finely chop parsley, reserving a sprig for garnishing. Wash the lettuce (or other preferred garnish) and plate your serving dish with a bed of lettuce leaves.
  • Rinse the cod fillets and place them on an absorbant paper towel before slicing into bite size pieces and coating in flour, shaking off the excess.
  • Take a saucepan and bring the oil for frying up to frying temperature.
  • Fry the cod fillets in the oil for frying, turning occasionally, until lightly golden (approximately 8-10 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil.
  • Add a pinch of salt, sprinkle some chopped parsley and plate on the salad leaves with lemon wedges and a parsley sprig to garnish.

(A friendly reminder; this recipe is one of Gianluca’s family recipes and while we’re all too happy to share it in our cooking class, should you intend to use and/or publish this recipe on any medium (hard copy, digital or electronic), we ask that you please acknowledge the origins of the recipe, being Michel’angelo, Capri. Grazie mille!)