How to Prepare Bacalao

(Cómo Desalar, Cocinar y Desmenuzar el Bacalao)

22 Comments

Learn how to prepare Bacalao, which consists of desalting, cooking and shredding the salted cod (bacalao), before incorporating into our most popular and delicious recipes! Bacalao is the Spanish term referring to the dried and salted codfish.  Today we consume the Authentic Salted Cod and the Salted Pollock Fillets.

The Authentic Salted Cod is purchased with skin and bones.  Conversely, the Salted Pollock Fillets can be purchased skinless and boneless.  When I am pressed for time, I select the Salted Pollock Fillets to eliminate the skin and bone removal process.  However, you still need to remove the excess salt and rehydrate both types of fish in order to begin the cooking process.  

We prepare a variety of dishes with the salt cod after it has been desalted, hydrated and cooked.   For Instance, the dishes that we mainly prepare with the salt cod are the Salt Cod Salad, Stewed Salt Cod and Salt Cod Fritters.

A Little Food History!

England took control of the fishing areas located near the coast of Newfoundland when Spain was defeated in the Spanish Armada in 1588.  This caused a huge delay in shipping codfish to Puerto Rico.  Finally, England started exporting the codfish to Puerto Rico in 1765.   The codfish, when caught, was coated with salt and dried to prevent it from spoiling during its long voyage.   For these reasons, we prefer the codfish that is dried and salted as opposed to fresh caught codfish.  

The Authentic Salted Cod became scarce due to over fishing in the North Atlantic.  As a result, we also consume another white fish known as Salted Pollock Fillets that is sold as Bacalao.

Learning How to Prepare Bacalao – the Authentic Salted Cod!

This is an Authentic Salt Cod known as Bacalao with skin and bones.  The salt application reduces the water content, creating a firm dry texture to the codfish.  It is found in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.  It has a low fat content, a white flesh and a soft texture when rehydrated.

Cutting the Authentic Salted Cod into Small Portions!

I precut the Bacalao in advance.  I first trimmed the excess skin and fins from the upper portion of the Bacalao on both sides with a kitchen scissor.

I also removed the tail fin of the bacalao.

Cut the Bacalao crosswise into 3-inch portions.  You can also trim off the excess skin (on the sides) of each portion.

Rinsing and Soaking the Authentic Salted Cod!

Rinse all the portions of the Bacalao with cold water to eliminate the excess salt.

Place in a bowl with skin side up and cover completely with cold water.  Soak the Bacalao in the refrigerator for 8 hours with 2 to 3 changes of fresh cold water.

After soaking the Bacalao for 2 hours in the refrigerator, drain the water from the bowl.

Cover the bowl again completely with fresh cold water and repeat this process after 3 more hours of soaking in the refrigerator.

After 8 hours of soaking in the refrigerator with 2 changes of fresh cold water, drain the water completely from the bowl.

Removing the Skin and Bones from the Authentic Salted Cod!

The flesh of the Bacalao is white with a soft texture after being rehydrated.

We can now remove the flesh from the skin for each portion of the Bacalao.  With your fingers, separate the skin from the flesh.  Place the flesh in a bowl.

Here is the skin with no flesh.

With your fingers, press down on each piece of flesh to feel for any bones.  Remove bones from flesh and discard.

Cooking the Authentic Salted Cod!

Place Authentic Salt Cod in saucepan.  Pour sufficient water to cover the Authentic Salt Cod.  Bring the water to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes of cooking, I skim off the foam, using a mesh spoon.

Remove a piece of Bacalao from saucepan to taste after the first boil to determine if the the salt content is to your liking.   However, if the Bacalao is still too salty, repeat the boiling process with fresh water until the salt content is reduced to your taste.

Shredding the Authentic Salted Cod!

How to Prepare Bacalao

Place the cooked Bacalao into a bowl. 

How to Prepare Bacalao

The Bacalao tends to separate into small pieces while cooking.  However, if you want to obtain even smaller pieces, shred the Bacalao with your hands.

How to Prepare Bacalao

The cooked Bacalao can now be used for various dishes that have Bacalao as an ingredient.

Learning How to Prepare Bacalao – the Salted Pollock Fillets!

How to Prepare Bacalao

This is the boneless and skinless Salted Pollock Fillets, a member of the codfish family, that is sold as Bacalao.  The salt application reduces the water content, creating a firm dried texture to the codfish.  It is found in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.  It has a low fat content, a white flesh and a soft texture when rehydrated.

Rinsing and Soaking The Salted Pollock Fillets!

How to Prepare Bacalao

Rinse the Salted Pollock fillets in cold running water to eliminate the excess salt.   

How to Prepare Bacalao

Place the Salted Pollock fillets in a bowl and cover completely with cold water.  Soak the Salted Pollock Fillets in the refrigerator for 4 hours with two changes of fresh cold water.   

After soaking the Bacalao for 1 hour in the refrigerator, drain the water from the bowl.

Cover the bowl again completely with fresh cold water and repeat this process after 2 more hours of soaking in the refrigerator.

Note:  After soaking the Salted Pollock Fillets in the refrigerator for 4 hours with 2 changes of fresh cold water, drain the water completely from the bowl.

Cooking the Salted Pollock Fillets!

How to Prepare Bacalao

Place the Salted Pollock fillets in a saucepan and pour sufficient water to cover the fillets.  Bring the water to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.  

After 20 minutes of cooking, I skim off the foam, using a mesh spoon.

How to Prepare Bacalao

Remove a piece of Bacalao from saucepan to taste after the first boil to determine if the the salt content is to your liking.   However, if the Bacalao is still too salty, repeat the boiling process with fresh water until the salt content is reduced to your taste.

Shredding the Cooked Salted Pollock Fillets!

Place the cooked Salted Pollock fillets into a bowl.   

How to Prepare Bacalao

Shred the cooked Salted Pollock Fillets with your hand.

How to Prepare Bacalao

The cooked Salted Pollock Fillets can now be used for various dishes that have Bacalao as an ingredient.

I hope you have enjoyed learning how to prepare bacalao – the Authentic Salted Cod and the Salted Pollock Fillets!

Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on Learning How to Prepare Bacalao – Desalt, Cook and Shred Salted Cod!

Recipe and Nutritional Facts!

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only.  Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.

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How to Prepare Bacalao


  • Author: Aida's Kitchen®
  • Prep Time: 5 Hours
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Servings 1x

Description

Learn how to prepare Bacalao, which consists of desalting, cooking and shredding the salted cod (bacalao), before incorporating into our most popular and delicious recipes!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Salted Pollock Fillets or
  • 1 fillet of Authentic Salted Cod

Instructions

  1. Trim the excess skin and fins from upper portion of Authentic Salt Cod.
  2.  Remove tail fin of the Authentic Salt Cod.
  3. Cut Authentic Salt Cod crosswise into 3-inch portions.
  4. Rinse both the Authentic Salt Cod or Salted Pollock Fillets under cold running water.
  5. Place in bowl and soak in cold water for 8 hour in the refrigerator with two to three changes of fresh water for the Authentic Salt Cod.  For the Salted Pollock Fillets, place in bowl and soak for 4 hours in the refrigerator with two changes of fresh water.
  6.  For the Authentic Salt Cod, remove the skin and bones.
  7. Pour 6 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the Authentic Salt Cod or Salted Pollock Fillets and boil for 15 mintues.
  8. Taste the cooked Authentic Salt Cod or Salted Pollock Fillets for salt content.  If still too salty, repeat the boiling process with fresh water until salt content is reduced to your liking.
  9. Shred the cooked Authentic Salt Cod or Salted Pollock Fillets with your hands.

Notes

Note:  One fillet of the Authentic Salted Cod weighs approximately 1 pound and 8 ounces.  When cooked, it yields 13 ounces to 1 pound of bacalao.

The Total Time is for the Salted Pollock Fillets.  However, if using the Authentic Salt Cod, you will need to add nine more hours to the Total Time.

  • Category: Food Preparation Techniques
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican Cuisine

Keywords: How to Desalt, Cook and Shred Salt Cod

Nutritional Facts Disclaimer

Category: Fish and Seafood, Food Preparation Techniques, Recipes

22 Comments. Leave new

  • Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

    Reply
  • Very informative thank you!

    Reply
  • Thank you for your presentation
    It was so helpful
    My Portuguese grandfather made cod fish cakes in the 1950/60’s
    I remember him hanging this huge piece of fish outside until going to use it but I never knew what he did
    I am making cod fish cakes for Christmas Eve dinner tonight

    Reply
  • Omg, lovelly

    Reply
  • Had salt cod for the first time. The saltiness made me look up salt cod preparation and recipes. Next time I’ll follow the directions as noted here!

    Reply
    • Hi Ray, Thank you for your kind comments. For your information, I am redoing all the food blog posts and videos within a few months. I will also include how to desalt, cook and shred the authentic salt cod. Check my food blog website within a month. Enjoy your weekend.

      Reply
  • Very good way to do it. A bit longer but the quality is very good

    Reply
  • I washed and washed , had the fish sit for 24 hours in water while I washed again and again. . Then boiled and changed the water during boiling. It was still salty and a little hard even when I made into a stew.

    Reply
    • Hi Cel, I always taste the salt cod for saltiness once it has been boiled. Sometimes I taste several pieces of the salt cod to make sure of its salt content. If it is still too salty, then repeat the boiling process with fresh water as many times as necessary until the salt content is to your liking. I only had to boil the salt cod at least twice before incorporating in a recipe regardless if I use the authentic salt cod or the salted pollock fillets. In addition, we all have different levels of salt tolerance. My salt tolerance might be very salty or less salty to other individuals. However, I never experienced the salt cod to be a little hard nor have I ever soaked the fish for more than 8 hours. I would advise to taste the salt cod before preparing your meal and make sure that any other spices added to your stewed salt cod did not contribute to the high salt content. Maybe you purchased a fish that should not have been sold.

      Reply
  • That’s the same way Puertoricans
    do.The diference is , that at the end we do prepare an Escabeche to enhance its flavor !!!!

    Reply
  • After I remove as much of the salt as I desire, can i make the salad wiithout cooking the filets, i love the texture of the uncooked fillets

    Reply
    • Hi Liz, I would never recommend anyone to consume this fish without cooking. I understand that there are some dish prepared with raw fish like sushi, ceviche, etc. Therefore, I would suggest for you to speak to a dietician regarding this matter.

      Reply
  • Thank you very helpful 🙏🏿❣️

    Reply

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