What Kind of Fish is Bacalao?

Bacalao is not a common fish to find on the menu of American restaurants. You are more likely to find it at European or Cuban restaurants. Even if you see it on the menu though, you might not be sure what it is, or if you should order it. 

Bacalao is codfish. The taste is a little different though because of how bacalao is dried and prepared. It’s preserved with salt, giving it a unique flavor. You can also cook bacalao in many different ways including frying, grilling, and baking. 

Preparing Bacalao 

If you want to make the fish for yourself at home instead of ordering it at a restaurant, you can follow a few simple steps to cook it and make a wonderful meal that the whole family will enjoy. 

You can buy the salted fish from most markets or stores. It’s often dried and sold as a whole fish, or in fillets. If you are cooking bacalao for the first time, fillets are usually easier to cook than a whole fish. 

Even though the fish comes dried and salted, it’s not completely ready to eat and cook as it is. You will need to remove the sodium from the fish first by soaking it and rehydrating it. This is easy though, you just need to completely submerge it in clean water. Change the water several times over the course of a few hours to be sure to remove as much salt as possible. 

Skipping this step will potentially ruin your meal because you will end up with fish that is way too salty and very high in sodium. Once the Bacalao has been rehydrated, you are free to consume it any way you want whether it be frying, putting it into a stew, or baking it. 

Cooking Bacalao 

Now that you have the excess sodium removed, you are ready to cook it, and you might be wondering about the best way to do so. There are many different ways to cook Bacalao and you can choose one based on your flavor preferences and how much time you have. 

Add it to a stew

During the wintertime, you might want to make warm meals. You can add Bacalao to any seafood or veggie stew. 

Bake it 

Baking Bacalao is an easy way to prepare a meal if you are pressed for time, or if you need to make a larger amount of food to feed the family. You can bake it in a wide dish with some olives and tomatoes for extra flavor. 

Add it to salads 

Salads are a popular meal choice especially in the spring and summer when you need something refreshing to eat. You can flake Bacalao on any type of salad to add some extra flavor and extra protein. 

Make fish and chips 

You can always fry bacalao if you want to make a fish and chips type dinner or lunch. You can still serve it with vegetables or salad to make the meal healthier. 

Bacalao is very versatile, so you can always try your own recipes or experiment with different ways to make it until you find the perfect one you like. You can also add a marinade if you want to change or add flavors. Marinating the fish is also a good way to make it spicy if you prefer foods with a kick. 

Does Bacalao Taste the Same as Fresh Cod? 

Since Bacalao is salted and dried, it tastes a little different compared to regular fresh cod. It’s not very salty though, as long as you rehydrate it correctly. The flavor is very mild overall and not too fishy. It has a subtle, sweet flavor and is very firm once the sodium has been removed. 

Bacalao is less tender than regular cod or other white fish in general. It’s still pretty delicate though and flakes easily once it has been well cooked. If you want to buy regular cod from a Spanish market, or in a foreign country, you might find it labeled as Bacalao fresco. 

Final Thoughts 

Bacalao is codfish that has been salted and dried giving it a unique flavor that is quite different from fresh cod or other white fish. You can try Bacalao for the first time in many European or Spanish restaurants. If you like the flavor and want to try your hand cooking it at home, there are many delicious ways to prepare it and cook it. 

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