Bacalao con Papa (Codfish with Potatoes) is a very popular dish in our country. It is one of the traditional dishes of the Dominican Lent.
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Bacalao con Papas is one of our culinary treasures, and the popularity of bacalao guisado goes back to the times of La Conquista. Yes, it is possible that codfish, along with casabe, is one of our oldest dishes.
History of Cod in our kitchen
When Catholics were forbidden to consume meat on Fridays, and during Lent, fish was the obligatory option. Before Columbus stepped on American soil, the Basques had already established an important fishing fleet that traveled to present-day Canadian waters in search of the valuable fish. Salted cod thus became the official dish of the Lenten season, and one of the pillars of Iberian cuisine.
Second history lesson: no one has cut more cod in Spain than the Church. The eternity of days of abstinence that they imposed turned codfish, salted or cecial –that is, dried and cured in the air-dried like jerky– in the king of the fish of the interior of Spain.
Given the ease of transport and the duration of salted fish in storage, this made it an easy item to use in long trips by sea. And so came the cod to our country. From American waters to Spain, and back to America. Cod became later one of the pillars of the “triangular” trade with America, where in one direction cod was transported, and in other slaves. A food with a history of blood, sweat, and tears.
Our recipe for Bacalao Guisado
Today there are no more strict restrictions for Catholics, nor is the country universally Catholic, but cod remains popular, and this dish is still a tradition of Dominican Lent.
For this recipe, I have sought inspiration in my family traditions, where olives cannot be absent. There is not much variation between Bacalao Guisado recipes, but we would like to hear if yours is different.
Bacalao Bacalao Guisado con Papa (Codfish with Potato a la Dominicana)
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of salted dried codfish
- 1 lb [0.48 kg] of potatoes
- 1/2 a gallon of water (plus a cup)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small red onion , cut into thin slices
- 1/4 cup of pitted olives , sliced
- 2 green bell peppers , diced into cubes
- 4 plum tomatoes , cut into quarters
- 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
- 1 sprig of parsley , chopped
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- Soak the codfish in abundant water overnight, or at least two hours.
- Boil the codfish and potatoes in half a gallon of water till tender. Flake the codfish and peel and dice the potatoes, reserve.
- In a pot heat the oil over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion, olives, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic and parsley until the onions become translucent. Add 1 cup of water and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the codfish and tomato sauce, stir.
- Add 1 cup of water and the potatoes, simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Season with salt to taste.