Bacalao, pronounced [bah-kah-LAH-oh] is Portuguese dried, salted cod fish. Before refrigeration, fish was dried and preserved in salt to keep in the cellar. There are hundreds of variations of bacalao recipes, but my favorite has always been Bacalao con Patatas (bacalao with potatoes) – however I don’t make it much at home because traditional recipes require too many steps and forethought for my bad habits (impatience and spontaneity).
After spying a bag of bacalao at my local market, I decided to create a recipe that that would cut out a major tedious step. Unfortunately, I couldn’t nix the “forethought” part – as bacalao needs to be soaked overnight in water to get rid of some of its salt. It’s a step that can’t be skipped (boo) and there really isn’t a good shortcut.
The “major tedious step” I’m talking about is boiling the potatoes first before adding it to the dish. Okay, so I’m being dramatic, but bringing a large pot of water to boil (and of course, staring at the darn thing waiting for the first bubbles) and then cooking the potatoes until tender is crazy boring and requires another pot on the stove.
Instead, dice the potatoes into 1/2″ dice, briefly brown them in the saute pan along with the rest of the vegetables. Then add the bacalao, a cup of water, cover and let ’em all simmer quietly and harmoniously for 15 minutes, just enough time to cook the potatoes through.
Serve over pasta, rice, quinoa….or enjoy with a loaf of bread.
Salt Cod (Bacalao) with Potatoes over Rice
Step 1: soak the bacalao overnight in cool water. This is a step you cannot skip….the fish will be way to salty.
The fresh ingredients – bell pepper, garlic, onion, tomatoes, salt cod (bacalao), celery and potatoes. All the veg are diced small – quicker cooking!
First, brown the potatoes in the saute pan.
Then saute the aromatics – garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery.
and add the rest of the ingredients in:
Including the de-salted (and drained) bacalao.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve over rice, pasta, quinoa…or enjoy with a loaf of bread.
Salt Cod (Bacalao) with Potatoes over Rice Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes + overnight soaking
Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup water
2 cups rice grains + water to cook
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pound salt cod (bacalao), soaked overnight (see note below)
1. The night before, cover the bacalao with cool water and refrigerate.
2. Drain the bacalao, rinse with fresh water. Cut into 1" pieces.
3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. When hot, add the potatoes and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Add in the bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water and stir. Bring to a simmer and add in the bacalao. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Stir in the parsley.
4. In the meantime, cook the rice according to package instructions. Serve the stew over rice.