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My New Favorite Dish for Christmas: Bacalao Mexicano


I don't know if this is a tradition anywhere in Mexico, but this strikes me as a generous, somewhat easy to execute Christmas dish. I've been making trial runs, and my family has loved it. I guessed that this recipe would serve 4-6 people, but this made my mother laugh. I reminded her that not everyone would be having seconds and thirds like she was. I think it would feed 6 normal people just fine.

It's handy to keep a box of salt cod in your fridge. It needs to soak and be de-salted before you cook but this is easy and only a little time consuming. I've seen many different times for soaking but I think 24 hours is plenty.

I used a large, clay cazuela but a small stock pot or soup pot will be fine.
Many recipes call for almonds and raisins but for me it's almost too much. I love the cod-tomato-chile combination as it is.

All of this is approximate and vague. It's hard to mess this up.

Recipe: Bacalao a la Mexicano

1 pound salt cod, soaked for 24 hours with several changes of water
1 large onion, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
5 canned plum tomatoes and their juice, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Rancho Gordo Oregano Indio
¼ cup capers (I use salt-packed Italian capers, soaked for about 20 minutes with a few changes of water)
½ cup green olives (I used Castelvetrano olives with pits, which I smashed with a knife and removed the pits before chopping roughly)
5 cooked potatoes, quartered
2 red bell peppers, roasted and roughly chopped
Salt to taste
3 jalapeños en escabeche, chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
Optional and traditional: ¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup slivered almonds

Poach the cod in water with an onion, over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. When cooked, set aside and allow to cool.

Saute the onions and garlic in a pot in plenty of olive oil and saute until soft over medium low heat for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the oregano and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

Remove the cod from the soaking water, reserving the cooking water. Once cool, shred it with your hands to small, bite size pieces. Shred the fish small, not tiny.

Add the potatoes, peppers, capers and olives to the pot. Stir gently and then carefully add the fish and simmer for 10 minutes or so over medium low heat. The dish should be like a thick soup with some broth. If it seems to dry, add a little of the reserved cooking water from the cod. Taste for salt.

The dog didn't get any bacalao but he was there and I felt it should be documented.

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