Start the Lenten Season with Bacalao en Salsa (Codfish Fricassee): A Meatless Lent {Recipe}

by Melanie Edwards on February 12, 2013 · 7 comments

in Recipes

Bacalao en Salsa (Codfish Fricassee) Recipe

The Lenten season begins tomorrow, with Ash Wednesday kicking off seven weeks of Lent this year. If you’re not familiar with Lent, it is a religious time period leading up to Easter and one that is quite often observed by Catholics and other Christian denominations. I grew up attending mass in a Catholic church and remember practicing Lent traditions, which include fasting on certain days and abstaining from meat (other than fish) every Friday. Lent, or cuaresma as we call it in Spanish, is probably how I learned to eat fish and seafood, since we ate so much of it.

One dish that I came to love is bacalao en salsa (or bacalao guisado), which is a codfish fricassee and a popular Puerto Rican recipe. Some translate the dish’s name as codfish stew, but I personally don’t think it has enough broth to merit being called a stew. Bacalao en salsa is a great Lenten recipe, but will definitely work any time of the year, not just for the Lent season’s meatless Fridays. Though I haven’t observed Lent as I used to in many years, I may just practice some of the Lenten traditions this year. It will be a good way to introduce what Lent is all about to my children!

If you observe Lent and need an idea for a meatless Lent recipe (or just want to try a new seafood dish), try making bacalao en salsa. The recipe is fairly simple and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. I found all of my ingredients at my local Walmart, but I’m not sure if all Walmart stores carry bacalao, so you’ll have to check your store’s seafood section.

Bacalao en Salsa (Codfish Fricassee) {Lenten Recipe Idea}

Ingredients for Bacalao en Salsa (Codfish Fricassee)


  • 14 oz Bacalao (Salted Alaskan Pollock or Codfish)
  • Green Bell Pepper, chopped and rinsed
  • Red Bell Pepper, cut in strips and rinsed
  • Onion, cut in rings and rinsed
  • About 3 Medium White Potatoes, peeled, cubed, and rinsed
  • Sofrito mix (see below)

For sofrito:

*To see pictures and links for the basic ingredients used in Puerto Rican sofrito, read 5 Must-Have Ingredients for Cooking Puerto Rican Food.

  • About 4 Tbsp. cooking oil (vegetable oil)
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • Sazón, 1 packet
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. sofrito
  • 5-6 green olives

Cooking Bacalao en Salsa (Codfish Fricassee)


  1. Soak the bacalao (fish) in water and boil for about 30 minutes (or until it’s less salty), to remove some of the salt. You will want to taste a small piece to see if it needs to boil longer.
  2. Add the cubed potatoes to the pot with the bacalao. The potatoes will boil and become tender, gaining the salt flavor of the bacalao.
  3. While the bacalao and potatoes boil, in a separate pan, sautee the green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and onion along with the sofrito mix.
  4. Remove and drain potatoes once they are tender. Taste the bacalao for saltiness and boil longer if necessary. If not, drain the bacalao as well.
  5. Once the bacalao has boiled long enough to remove enough salt, shred by hand.
  6. Add the shredded bacalao and potatoes to the pan with sofrito and bell pepper mixture.
  7. Cook on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with white rice, brown rice, or boiled green bananas. I like it best over white rice, though!

Bacalao en Salsa (Codfish Fricassee) title=

Do you observe Lent? Are meatless Fridays a Lenten tradition you practice? If you need more Lent recipe ideas, check out some of the Lenten recipes below from a few of my blogger friends!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

All photos © Melanie Edwards/modernmami™

Meatless Lent Recipes (Lenten Recipe Ideas)

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1 Jeannette Quiñones-Cantore February 13, 2013 at 7:28 am

Mama mia! this bacalao guisado look delicious!

2 Melanie Edwards February 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Ay, gracias!!! 🙂 It was so good and can’t believe I don’t eat it more often!

3 Tania October 1, 2014 at 11:34 am

Can’t wait to make it tonight!!!

4 Melanie Edwards October 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Hope you enjoyed it!

5 Fleta July 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Finding
the time and actual effort to generate a good article… but what can I say… I put
things off a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

6 mima February 17, 2017 at 8:25 pm

When you live in the island you don’t pay to much attention to the bacalao, once you spent ten or twenty years out , you start missing all the good food we have, specilly the bacalao with “panas n aguacate”.

7 Melanie Edwards February 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm

This is so true!

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