Bacalao Navideño

Christmas Salted Cod

Bacalao Navideño
6 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: almonds, Bacalao, chiles güeros, Christmas dishes, olives, pati's mexican table, potatoes, salted cod fish
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 2 days
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 days 45 minutes
Christmas Salted Cod recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 5, Episode 13 “José Andrés Takes Over"


  • 1 pound dried salted cod
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 white onion, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped, or a 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, sweated, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, peeled, halved if larger than 1-inch
  • 2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos, thinly sliced
  • 8 to 10 pickled pepperoncini peppers or chiles güeros, plus more for serving
  • French baguette, to slice and toast

To Prepare

  • 48 hours before you wish to make the dish, begin preparing your salt cod for cooking. Place in a bowl, cover with water and place in the refrigerator. The next day drain, rinse and cover with water again. Place it back in the refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours. Drain, rinse and cover with water again. Refrigerate for another 10 to 12 hours, drain and rinse. Shred the fish and it is ready to use.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown around the edges. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers, cover partially and cook, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and darkened in color. It should look somewhat chunky.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate, medium saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes, until just tender; when you insert the tip of a knife it should go all the way in, but the potatoes should not fall apart. Drain and set aside.
  • Stir the shredded cod into the tomato mixture. Add the vinegar, parsley, almonds and olives, stir together and continue to cook, partially covered for another 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the ingredients are well amalgamated and the sauce has thickened even more.
  • Reduce heat to low, stir in the cooked potatoes and the pickled pepperoncini peppers, cover the casserole and simmer for 5 more minutes. The mixture should be very moist and juicy, but not soupy. No need to add salt. Serve with additional pickled pepperoncini, and if you’d like, white rice on the side.

21 comments on “Bacalao Navideño

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  1. Patti thank you so much for the recipes
    Mami me enseñó cómo hacerlo tenía un poco de miedo con el bacalao y lo hice con atún quedo delicioso Gracias!!
    Feliz 🎄

  2. Pati, This was my first bacalao, and it was absolutely delicious! No surprise, of course. Although I followed the directions about prepping the fish to the letter, I could not flake the fish at the end of the rinsing process. I ended up cutting the fish into chunks, but even that was difficult. Any idea as to what I did wrong?

    1. There are so many different kinds of salted bacalao, maybe the one that you got needed a bit more soaking. Happy to hear it was tasty!

  3. Right after I was first married to my son’s father his mother came from Mexico and she made a cod fish dish more kind of casserole I’ve never been able to find the recipe anything similar to that you my dear lady have done it now I will play around with this recipe so I can get the one she made but man doesn’t look so good thank you I love your show you are just adorable thank you thank you so much

    1. Thank you so much Gay! I hope you make the recipe your own and are able to replicate your mother-in-law’s recipe.


    1. Hi Damon, This recipe traditionally uses the salted cod… it has such a smoky, salty and rustic taste. You could use the fresh cod, but then what I recommend is that you prepare the sauce along with the cooked potatoes, and just spoon it over baked, broiled or seared fresh cod.

  5. My wife has had a difficult time finding the dried salted cod in the US. Do you have any suggestions? It is one of her families favorites for Christmas meals.

  6. My wife has had a difficult time finding the dried salted cod in the US. Do you have any suggestions? It is one of her families favorites for Christmas meals.

    1. Oh, you know where I have found it? Either in seafood/fish specialty shops -tell your wife to ask the fishmonger to source it for her- or Italian grocery stores.

      1. In the Bay Area, try any 99 Ranch Market. Or, try Googling portuguese grocery. Bacalao’s the national dish there!

    1. Try any portuguese store or even brazilian store. Goya makes bacalhau tambien, I found it in the refrigerated section of H Mart or any large asian/international supermarket. Portuguese don’t refrigerate it – so don’t be scared if it’s in a wooden box on a shelf!