To prepare the Baccalà (salted cod), rinse the salted cod under cold running water. Lay the salted cod on a plate and run your fingers along the length of the fillet. When you feel the tip of a fish bone, use clean tweezers to grasp the tip of the bone and pull it out. Continue down the line and along the length of the fillet to feel for any additional bones and pull them out. Cut the salted cod into 5cm long, evenly sized pieces.
Note: Salted cod differs in the degree of saltiness. For this reason, this recipe requires 2 or 3 days soaking. To test the level of saltiness, cut a small piece of salted cod after 2 days soaking and fry it. Taste the piece of salted cod which should be a little salty. If it is overwhelmingly salty when testing, soak for 3 days instead of 2.
Place the salted cod in a glass bowl and cover completely with cold water by approximately 5 cm. Place the bowl in the fridge and soak for 2-3 days (as per note in step 1), changing the water 3 times a day.
Dust a piece of salted cod in the flour, shaking off any excess. Place the fish onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining pieces of cod.
Heat half of the olive oil in a large, heavy based stockpot over medium heat. Cook the baccalà until nicely browned all over (2-3 minutes). Remove from stockpot and set aside on a plate.
To make the ‘soffritto’ (sautéed base flavouring) for the Baccalà (dried salted cod) alla Livornese (Livorno-style fish stew), melt the butter and remaining olive oil in a large, heavy-based stockpot over low heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the anchovies, capers, chilli, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the paste darkens (approximately 4 minutes). Pour the white wine over the soffritto and cook for 3 minutes or until evaporated. Return the Baccalà to the stockpot. Pour hot vegetable stock over the Baccalà. Cook over low to medium heat for 20 minutes.
Once cooked, scatter with flat-leaf parsley. Serve Baccalà (dried salted cod) alla Livornese with crusty bread – buon appetito.