Since moving to Houston, TX I haven’t found too many places with bacalao in any form or fashion. In fact, the only place I found, closed down in 2010. I am sure I have to do some digging around town and find a place. After Hurricane Maria, the diaspora has spread out even more so now we can find more Puerto Rican or Caribbean eateries, even in Houston!
While I love bacalao (cod-fish), I haven’t bought or use frozen or fresh codfish for this recipe. It may work, but haven’t tried it. I only have use super salty preserved cod fish. Why? Because that’s what it was available back when fresh cod fish was not an option to the creoles in the island.
Where do I find salted cod fish?
I usually go to Mi Tienda (a latin HEB super store) and get a bag of dried, salted cod-fish filets. It can be about $30 a bag with about 2.5lbs or so, but it yields for easily 3 or 4 recipes. In addition, you can freeze it and use it later. I swear that thing never goes bad, it’s as reliable as a can of Carmela vienna sausages during a hurricane.
What’s salted cod fish or bacalao?
They are usually fillets of cod-fish preserved in salt, lots of salt! Think of it like cod fish jerky. This type of bacalao is very popular in Puerto Rico and easier to find there than here, but worth searching for it. It yields a delicious and complex dish, full of different flavors that compliment each other. It is one of my favorite comfort foods.
Why I love this recipe so much?
I love this dish so much because it reminds me of my home, particularly my parents and older generations of my family. They will make bacalao like this or in a salad, once de-salted. One of the main fixings for the bacalao would be breadfruit or boiled plantains, yuccas, or name root, which they are all abundant in Puerto Rico. It is a dish that calls home for me. It also mixes our Spanish and African heritage with our Taino roots to make a great homenage to the history of Puerto Rico.
As my mom makes the best Bacalao a la Vizcaina I have ever tried, I decided to try my hand at it and follow her instructions step by step. I must warn you all that she doesn’t measure anything and trying to get this recipe measuring everything was a real challenge. However, if you feel artistic when cooking this recipe, know that it is ok to add bit more or less of anything, after all we all have different taste buds and we can’t all get it as perfect as my mami.
- 1.5 lb cod fillet dry and salted
- 1/2-1 cup sofrito
- 1-1/2 yellow onion sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 4oz jar sweet roasted red peppers sliced
- 2-3 laurel leaves
- 6-10 stuffed green olives sliced
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce up to 3/4 cup
- 2 eggs boiled, sliced, optional
- 2 cup water
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 2 tbsp oil
- salt and peper to taste
- Cut the cod fillet(s) in pieces and place inside a sauce pan with 1 cup of water to desalt it. It may take few hours.
- Rinse and boil it in water for 15 minutes. Once desalted and boiled, proceed to cut it in even smaller pieces and take any bones out.
- In a large skillet, add 1-2 tbsp of oil, the onions, and pepper, and cook until translucent.
- Add the sofrito and let it cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the cod fillet in pieces with the rest of the ingredients and cook for few minutes until everything is well mixed.
- Let the mix simmer for 15-20 minutes in med-low to low heat. Because the cod was salted, taste it before adding any more salt and pepper to it.