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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bacalao Guisado (Cod Fish Stew)

Well, if two weeks ago it was stew week and last week it was Mediterranean week, this week it's fake recipe week. What with yesterday's not-exactly-bolognese and today's bacalao-less bacalao.

This recipe for Bacalao Guisado isn't exactly fake. It's just that traditionally bacalao is made with salted, dried cod fish and I prefer to use fresh. You can use whichever you prefer, but don't forget that salted, dried cod fish needs to be soaked in water and rinsed well or else you're going to have salt stew.

Bacalao Guisado, or cod fish stew, is probably my favorite Puerto Rican food. But it's not just Puerto Rican; you can find recipes for something similar in Cuba, Portugal, Italy...the list goes on and on. It's a really easy recipe to make with fairly simple ingredients. If your supermarket carries Goya products, you can almost certainly find sofrito, a salsa-looking condiment that adds wonderful flavor to soups, stews, and beans. If you can't find sofrito, omit it and substitute it with some cilantro. It's not a true substitution, but it will help to give the stew an authentic flavor. The same holds true for the adobo, a seasoning. If you can't find it, substitute a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Bacalao Guisado

1 to 1 1/2 lbs fresh cod fish
1 medium potato, cubed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 each red and green peppers, cut into strips
2 tbsp sofrito
6 oz tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Adobo with pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
10-12 green olives with pimentos
1 tsp capers
3/4 cup water

1. Barely cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil; cover and cook for 5 minutes until nearly soft. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, and the red and green peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add potato, garlic, sofrito, tomato sauce, tomato paste, adobo, olives, capers and water. Bring to a boil.

3. Meanwhile, cut cod fish into bite sized pieces and add to the pot when the stew comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer; cover and cook for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through and the stew has thickened.

The Verdict: More please!

This is such a great, easy recipe. It also smells wonderful as it simmers because it's not just the heavy smell of cooking fish. I also love this recipe because in comparison to so many Puerto Rican dishes that are fried, this is simmered. It's also all fresh vegetables.

Speaking of vegetables, feel free to use whatever root vegetable you'd like with this stew. Yucca or cassava would not only be great, but very authentic. Since I had potatoes in my house (which I never do), I opted to use those up.

It's suggested to eat this dish with, or even over, white rice. But I didn't feel this was necessary because of the potato. A nice accompaniment, however, would be a fresh, crusty bread.

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