Bacalao a la Vizcaina is a very traditional Mexican dish normally served over the New Year in Mexico or sometimes on Christmas Eve as well.

This salted cod recipe dates back to viceroyalty times where Spanish and native ingredients from the new world were combined to create dishes like this. This is why you can see the use of capers, olives and salt cod that are not typically Mexican, combined with the tomato and pickled chillies that are native ingredients of Mexico.

Bacalao is one of those special dishes that has been preserved by grandmas in Mexican families and passed on from generation to generation. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but this bacalao recipe is worth every minute. When you get to enjoy salted cod at New Year with a bit of crusty bread to dip into the juices, it’s epic! This is one of those dishes that tastes even better when reheated, too.

A few things to remember on how to prepare bacalao:

  1. It’s very important to soak your salted cod fish for at least 24 hrs, preferably 48 hrs, and to change the water from time to time. This not only helps to get rid of the excess salt but rehydrates your cod, making it much easier to prepare.
  2. Add the olives just before it goes into the oven.
  3. Be careful when adding salt, as the cod will still be salty.
  4. A few extra things that are sometimes added at the end are skinless roasted red peppers, cut into strips, or toasted almonds.
  5. Serve hot with crusty bread, a glass of sparkling or white wine, and always some pickled chillis too. We recommend serving with Gran Luchito Jalapeño and Pineapple or for a spicier chilli try Gran Luchito Fire Roasted Serranos.
  • Prep time

    48 hrs

  • Cook time

    1 hr 30 mins

  • Total time

    49.5 hours

  • Ideal for

  • Make it

  • Serves


Nutrition: Per serving

kcal 166 fat 9.6g saturates 1.4g carbs 14.4g sugars 4.3g fibre 1.6g protein 3.1g salt 0.76g

How to make it

  1. The first step is to hydrate and soak the salted cod. This takes a bit of time, and we recommend doing this 48 hrs before. For this, simply place the salt cod in a bowl and cover with cold water. Drain the water after 24 hrs and add fresh water, then leave to soak for 24 hrs more. Drain again. The cod should be soft and easy to shred with your hands.
  2. Heat up the oil in a large casserole pot. Add the onions and garlic, fry gently over a low-medium heat, stirring from time to time. Let the garlic and onions get lightly golden, this may take from 15 to 20 minutes, approx.
  3. Add the capers and Chipotle Paste, stir into the onions and let it cook for a minute or two.
  4. Finally, add the plum tomatoes and crush them with a wooden spoon. Season with a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover the casserole with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes approx.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F. Once the sauce is ready, add the shredded cod into the sauce and also the olives. Stir in the ingredients, and if your casserole dish is oven proofed just place a lid on and bake the bacalao in the oven for 35 minutes, approx. If not, then place the bacalao ingredients in a baking dish and cover with tin foil, then bake it in the oven for 35-40 minutes. 
  6. Once ready, get your bacalao out of the oven and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. Serve hot with crusty bread and Jalapeño & Pineapple on the side. Don’t forget a glass of sparkling wine! Happy holidays!

What To Serve With Bacalao

Serve this traditional bacalao recipe with one of these sides:

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What is salt cod?

As well as fresh cod, you can also buy dried and salted cod, which is a great way to preserve it, with hardly any loss of nutrients. Both versions of this highly versatile fish are equally healthy, provided you desalt and rehydrate it properly. In terms of flavor, the taste difference between salt cod and fresh cod is slight. The salted cod will have more flavour.

What is bacalao in English?

Bacalao is the Spanish term for dried and salted codfish. In English, it is translated as simply cod. The dish is known as Bacalao a la Vizcaina, which means Basque Style Codfish Stew.

Where to buy salt cod?

You can find it in some large supermarkets, but it's hard. Fishmongers should have it, or you can ask them to order it in for you. If you happen to be near Billingsgate Fish Market in London, they also sell it. Salted cod is also sold in Spanish specialist stores like Brindisa.

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