Recipe: Holiday Bacalao


by Chef Martin Lopez, ChefMartin.Net

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 14 at 3:07 PM

Dried and salted cod has been produced in Norway and Iceland for over 500 years, however Bacalao, “Dried Salted Cod” is sold all over Mexico around Christmas time and is a very traditional Christmas dish.

Now days you can buy Bacalao in many specialty stores around the world to use as an alternative for your main dish for the holidays or as a-add on to the holiday dinners. 

1 1/2 pounds of bacalao (salted, dried cod) or 2 pounds of fresh Cod
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 large white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup green olives, either left whole, or pitted and sliced
6 pickled guerito chiles, or more if you like it spicy
1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme
¼ cup of capers
¼ cup of roasted almonds

If using dried salted Cod, prepare the cod the day before by placing it in a dish of cold water, change out the water every few hours until the cod no longer tastes overly salty.

Wash and dice potatoes and cook Al dente in salted water, drain and set aside.

Roast your tomatoes either under the broiler or on a comal, until they’re blackened and blistered in spots. Remove the skins once they’re cool enough to handle, and place them in a blender.

Puree until you no longer see any thick pieces of tomato.

It’s important to use the freshest, ripest tomatoes possible and slow-roasting the tomatoes to tone down the fish flavor.

Heat a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat in a large, 12-inch skillet, or a enameled dutch oven. Add your onion and cook until softened, about five minutes then add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds to a minute. Add the tomato mixture, stir, and cook in low heat until it’s reduced and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the tomato mixture is cooking, place your newly salt-free Bacalao in a sauce pan, and cover it with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer the fish for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Once your tomato sauce has thickened, add the parsley, olives, guerito chiles, thyme, cappers and almonds. Stir in enough water to create a soupy broth, and then add your fish into the pan, nestling it inside so it’s covered by the other ingredients. Simmer for an hour, adding more water if fish looks too dry, fish should break up into chunks.

When fish is done cooking, add your potatoes to the pot and stir and topped with the fresh parsley and garnish with few more chiles gueritos.