When you bring the dried baccalà home from the store, rinse it to remove some of the salt. Place the baccalà pieces in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the fish by at least two inches. Refrigerate it for four days, changing the water every 8 hours, 2-3 times a day. (See notes.)
When you’re ready to cook the skinned and deboned baccalà, rinse it and pat it dry with paper towels or a lint-free kitchen towel.
Use kitchen scissors to cut the fish into smaller pieces 3-to-5 inches long and 2 or 3 inches wide.
Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Add the flour to a dinner plate and stir in the black pepper.
Set up an assembly line from left to right with the baccalà, the beaten eggs, the flour and a large platter or pan to hold the fish.
Dip each piece of cod in the eggs, letting the excess drip off. Then, place the baccalà in the flour, patting on the flour with the back of a fork. Flip the fish and flour the other side. Let any excess flour fall off and add the fish to your platter in a single layer.
Add the avocado oil (or canola) to a 12-inch frying pan and heat it on medium- high. When the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees F (test it with an instant thermometer or just wait until it’s starting to ripple), add about half the baccalà to the pan in a single layer. (You will need to fry it in two batches.)
Fry the first side for 3-4 minutes (or less for thin pieces). Flip over the fish and fry the second side for another 3-4 minutes (or just 2 minutes for thin pieces). It’s a good idea to remove a thick piece to a plate and cut it open to see if it’s done. The fish should flake easily and not look shiny.
Place the fried baccalà on a cooling rack positioned over paper towels to drain. (This prevents sogginess.) If you don’t have a cooling rack, you can drain the baccalà on a platter lined with paper towels.
Squeeze lemon juice onto the baccalà and serve immediately for the crispiest texture.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days. Leftovers are delicious reheated in a toaster oven or slightly warmed in the microwave and served with mayo, or in a sandwich.
Some people only soak the salted cod for 2-3 days, but it can still taste quite salty. I find soaking it for four days makes it taste mild with the perfect level of salty flavor.
Some grocery stores sell the baccalà already skinned and deboned. If the baccalà you buy still has the skin and bones, wait until you’ve soaked the fish for four days before removing them.
Peel the skin off with your hands. Rub your thumbs all over the fish to feel for the bones. Use kitchen scissors to cut the flesh along each side of the bone, then pull out the bone with your fingertips or tweezers. It’s easier to find the bones once the fish is cut into smaller serving pieces.
You need to use cooking oil with a high smoke point for frying the fish. Olive oil is not recommended for frying. Avocado oil is a healthy choice and lends great flavor.