Bacalao Guisado (Puerto Rican Fish Stew)


Bacalao, salted dried codfish, is the defining ingredient in traditional Puerto Rican fish stew, but salt cod requires overnight soaking and several rinses in cool water before it can be used. We opt for fresh fish in this quick version. Serve with crusty rolls to soak up the juices.

Active Time:
25 mins
Additional Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
4 cups

What Is Bacalao?

Bacalao is the Spanish name for salted, dried codfish. Salted dried codfish is used in many cuisines ranging from the Caribbean up through northern Europe. The salt, coupled with the drying process, helps to preserve the fish and extend its shelf life. Bacalao is often featured in stews like this Puerto Rican fish stew. Here, we swap in fresh cod for two reasons. First, it helps cut down on prep time as bacalao requires overnight soaking to release some of the salt. Second, using fresh cod helps reduce the overall amount of sodium in the dish.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound flaky white fish, such as haddock, tilapia or cod (see Tip), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 1 Anaheim or poblano chile pepper, chopped

  • ¼ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons sliced pimento-stuffed green olives

  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup water, as needed

  • 1 avocado, chopped (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  2. Add fish, tomatoes and their juices, chile pepper, cilantro, olives, capers, oregano and salt; stir to combine. Add up to 1/2 cup water if the mixture seems dry. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with avocado (if using).

    Puerto Rican Fish Stew Bacalao
    Photographer: Fred Hardy II, Food Stylist: Margaret Monroe Dickey, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser


Opt for firmer hook-and-line-caught haddock or U.S.-farmed tilapia. Cod also works, but will be more flaky. For more information about sustainable seafood visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

189 Calories
8g Fat
9g Carbs
20g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 189
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 20g 40%
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Vitamin A 704IU 14%
Vitamin C 44mg 48%
Folate 31mcg 8%
Sodium 758mg 33%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 1mg 7%
Magnesium 43mg 10%
Potassium 617mg 13%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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