Recipe Idea for Lent: Ensalada de Bacalao (Puerto Rican Codfish Salad)

by Melanie Edwards on March 6, 2014 · 11 comments

in Puerto Rico, Recipes

Ensalada de Bacalao, Puerto Rican Codfish Salad Recipe

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The Lenten season began yesterday, with Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of a 7-week period of meatless Fridays before the Easter holiday for many households. Growing up in a Latino Catholic household, each year my family honored Cuaresma (Lent) by following the church’s traditions of fasting and abstinence from meat. On Ash Wednesday and every Friday after that through Easter, we would not eat any meat except fish. We would also fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Because of Lent, I learned to eat a lot of fish and seafood, with bacalao (codfish) being a popular fish my mom would cook in a variety of ways. Last year I shared her recipe for bacalao en salsa (codfish fricassee), but another way she prepared codfish was in a salad.

How to Make Ensalada the Bacalao, Puerto Rican Codfish Salad

This recipe for ensalada de bacalao, a Puerto Rican codfish salad, is one that I grew up eating often and remember it tasting light and fresh, yet really flavorful due to the combination of vegetables and the bacalao. Ensalada de bacalao definitely brings a unique blend of ingredients together, making for a great Lent recipe to add to your meatless Fridays menu. The ingredients for this Puerto Rican codfish salad should be simple to find as well – most can be found in the fresh produce section of your local Walmart – and the bacalao should be in the seafood area. Ready to learn how to make ensalada de bacalao?

Ensalada de Bacalao (Puerto Rican Codfish Salad) Recipe


  • 14 oz, Bacalao (Salted Alaskan Pollock or Codfish)
  • 2-3 cups potatoes, peeled, cubed, and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, julienned
  • 2-3 cups lettuce, shredded
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1-2 tsp oregano
  • bay leaf, 2-3 small leaves, crushed
  • 1 small avocado, sliced
  • 2-3 eggs, hard boiled, quartered
  • Salt, to taste

Main Ingredients for Puerto Rican Codfish Salad, Ensalada de Bacalao


  1. In a large pot, boil bacalao in about 5 cups water for about 30 minutes. This is to remove some of the salt. Drain.
  2. Repeat step 1, but this time, add potatoes to pot. They’ll pick up on the flavor of the bacalao as they boil.
  3. Boil bacalao and potatoes for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Drain.
  4. Hand-shred bacalao and set aside along with potatoes.
  5. In small pan, heat olive oil and saute onion on medium heat until slightly translucent.
  6. In large bowl or serving dish, mix bacalao, potatoes, onion and olive oil mixture, lettuce, tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaf. Add salt to taste, as you mix.
  7. Layer avocado slices and egg quarters on top before serving.

We normally ate our ensalada de bacalao with a side of white rice, but you can easily eat your serving of Puerto Rican codfish salad with some bread or even on its own! I’m sure you can come up with other ways to eat your ensalada de bacalao too – I’d love to hear about it, share how you pair your Puerto Rican codfish salad in the comments!

Will you be adding this Puerto Rican codfish salad to your Lenten meatless Fridays menu?

Puerto Rican Codfish Salad, Ensalada de Bacalao

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1 Sili March 7, 2014 at 9:22 am

I’m always looking for recipes during lent and doing something other than the traditional ensalada de bacalao that I grew up with. Thanks!

2 Melanie Edwards March 8, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Is my ensalada de bacalao very different than the one you grew up with, Sili?

3 Val July 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Ours was a little different and we ate them with a side of boiled green bananas.

4 Melanie Edwards July 18, 2014 at 10:16 am

Val, my family also makes bacalao en salsa (see recipe here: which is sometimes served with a side of boiled green bananas. This is a different dish than the ensalada de bacalao, though. Both are delicious! 🙂

5 Nyesha July 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm

The recipe looks great. Thank you for sharing.

6 Shelly February 20, 2015 at 9:28 am

What a beautiful and colorful dish! I grew up eating cod fish (salt fish) and never had it in this way. Thanks for sharing!

7 Melanie Edwards February 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Thanks, Shelly! It’s delicious!

8 Carmen March 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for this. Brings me memories of my Mom…can’t wait to make this tonight!

9 Melanie Edwards March 24, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Hope you enjoyed! I love memories of my mom cooking. 🙂

10 Edgar March 29, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Paid participant or not ,you did very well.
Love the salad.

11 Maria November 21, 2015 at 1:42 pm

This is similar to how my grandmother used to make it except that she didn’t use potatoes and she didn’t layer the eggs and avocado on top, she usually mixed them in as the avocado and tomatoes gave the ensalada a certain texture and flavor when incorporated. It’s so addicting that when I make it, its usually the first dish to go.

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