How to Cook with Bacalao Dried Salted Cod Fish

Bacalao, baccala, cod—these are all different words for the same fish that has become a seafood staple and a delicacy in cuisines all over the world. From Spain to Norway, bacalao has been dried, salted, and cooked for hundreds of years. But if you’re not already familiar with it, making a bacalao recipe can seem daunting. So here’s a guide for how to cook with bacalao dried salted cod fish.

What is bacalao fish?

Bacalao (or cod) is a fish found in the North Atlantic. It is a large fish that, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, can weigh close to 80 pounds! Traditionally, the Atlantic cod is dried and salted for preservation, just as it has been for centuries (since before there were refrigerators).

How do you prepare salted cod?

Dried salted cod needs to be rehydrated and desalted before eating. If you know you want to make a bacalao recipe, be sure to allow for a few days of prep. The process of soaking the fish in water takes between one and three days. (The amount of time ultimately depends on how heavily salted the bacalao fish is to begin with, and how salty you want it to taste in the end.) Making the perfect cod fish recipes means being vigilant during this process, changing the water three times a day and monitoring the salt content. Once the bacalao reaches the taste you're after, it is time to boil the fish.

How do you cook with cod fish?

There are a great many cod fish recipes out there spanning many types of international cuisine. How to cook cod fish depends on what type of cuisine you’re going for. Is it Spanish? Italian? Norwegian? Caribbean? Some common bacalao recipes include cod fritters, cod stew, bacalao with chickpeas, and bacalao with tomatoes and capers. A traditional Italian Christmas recipe made with bacalao (or baccala) is a seafood salad called The Feast of the Seven Fishes.

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