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Mexican Bacalao Navideño (Dried Salted Cod)

Six to eight servings

This dried Cod delicious dish is prepared traditionally in Mexico for the Christmas holiday!

The Spanish made the most of the New World ingredients they found in Mexico, using potatoes, tomatoes and chiles in this dish, in addition to the olives they imported from Europe and the salted, dried cod that accompanied them on ocean voyages.

Bacalao is the Spanish word for a slab of boneless, skinless dried salt cod. The filets — long, snowy looking things — pop up in all the Mexico City grocery stores and markets during Christmas time.

The dried cod piled up in the markets at this time of year undergoes an almost magical and delicious culinary transformation from a rather unappetizing looking ingredient to an outstanding dish with an inspired combination of flavors.


2 lbs. dried Salted Cod (Bacalao) Don’t buy the flat board-like sheets. Use the thicker more expensive filet.

1Chile Ancho (optional)

2 lbs. fresh tomatoes

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

1large Onion, finely chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

1 Bay Leaf

1 pinch Ground Cinnamon

1 pinch fresh ground pepper

1 (220 g) jar roasted red peppers

1/2 Cup sliced blanched almond

1/2 Cup pimento stuffed olive

1/4 Cup of Capers

2 tablespoons fresh chopped Parsley

1 lb. Small potato, cooked and peeled


Soak the cod in cold water to cover for 12 hours, changing the water 2 or 3 times. Drain. Place in saucepan cover with water and bring just to a boil. Drain, remove the skin and bones, shred the flesh and set aside.

Remove the stem and seeds from the chile ancho and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain then puree in blender with the tomatoes and strain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and garlic over low heat until transparent. Add the puree and cook over low heat until it thickens. Add the cod, bay leaf, cinnamon, pepper, red peppers, almonds, olives, capers and parsley. Stir, then cook over medium heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover and cook over high heat for 10 more minutes to heat through. Add salt if required, but keep in mind the the fish is salted.

Refrigerate for a day or so for the flavors to meld. If it seems a little dry, make some more sofrito and add it to the mixture.

Serve at room temperature.

Refrigerated, the dish should be good for about a week.

Garnish with the chiles gueros and eat with white bread.

Happy Holidays!

Chef Martin Lopez


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