top of page
  • Writer's pictureRuby Deubry

Saltfish Rice (Bacalao Rice)


1 lb skinless, deboned salted codfish aka saltfish or bacalao (I use Galeco brand)

2 teaspoons granualted sugar, plus extra

4 tablespoons oil

1 onion, medium diced (about 1 cup)

1 celery, medium diced (about 1/2 cup)

1 carrot, medium diced (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 red bell pepper, medium diced (about 1/2 cup)

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups long-grained white rice, washed and drained

3 1/4 cups water or fish stock

4 stalks green onion, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon diced hot pepper, any variety (optional)

 2 Roma tomates, seeded and diced, or one14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

4 tablespoons freshly minced parsley

2 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning, any variety (I used Tony Chachere's original seasoning)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 large bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (optional)


  1. Rinse the excess salt from the dried fish under cold running water, then place the fish in medium to large pot. [see Tip 1]

  2. Cover the fish with 10 - 12 cups of cold water and add 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the salty water, then repeat Step 2 once or twice more. The saltfish is ready to use when it is only mildly salty, has lost it's stringy/chewy texture, and the flesh flakes easily with a fork. [see Tip 2]

  3. Pat the fish with paper towel to remove excess moisture, and place in a bowl. Using 2 forks, flake the fish into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. [see Tip 3]

  4. In a 5- to 7-quart Dutch Oven or large, heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper. Saute for 5 minutes until they are softened, then add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the tomato paste deepens in color and is fragrant.

  5. Add the saltfish and the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is very thick, add an additional 1/4 cup water or stock. Stir well. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, stir once more, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture sit for another 5 minutes. Stir gently to mix and enjoy.

Chef Tips:

  1. Prepping dried saltfish for use varies depending on various factors including how much salt was used during the curing process, how long the fished has been curing, the method of storage, and the thickness of the fish. For thick, heavily-cured saltfish: first rinse the excess salt from the fish. Place the fish in a pot or bowl, cover well with cold water, and leave to soak in the fridge overnight. Drain the water then continue with Step 2 in the recipe.

  2. When testing the doneness of the fish, I recommend testing a piece from the center of a larger piece of fish and middle sections take longer to release the salt.

  3. If your saltfish is not skinless and boneless, you will need to removing these. The skin peels off easily after soaking or cooking. And the bones are typically large and easy to remove by hand, although you can also use a fish bone tweezer.

10 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page