Delicious and Authentic Bacalao Guisado Recipe from Puerto Rico

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with a mouthwatering and authentic Bacalao Guisado recipe straight from the vibrant island of Puerto Rico! This traditional dish is a beloved staple of Puerto Rican cuisine, known for its rich flavors and unique blend of ingredients. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of preparing this delectable fish stew, ensuring every bite is bursting with flavor and authenticity. So, put on your apron, grab your kitchen utensils, and let’s dive into the world of Bacalao Guisado!

Delicious and Authentic Bacalao Guisado Recipe from Puerto Rico | 101 Simple Recipe
Image Source:

The History of Bacalao Guisado in Puerto Rico

Bacalao guisado, a traditional Puerto Rican dish, has a rich history and cultural significance on the island. This flavorful seafood dish has its origins in the arrival of bacalao, or salted codfish, in Puerto Rico and has since become a beloved part of the Puerto Rican cuisine.

The Arrival of Bacalao in Puerto Rico

The story of bacalao in Puerto Rico dates back to the European colonization of the Caribbean. During the time of the Spanish Empire, codfish was heavily salted and preserved to sustain sailors during long voyages. These preserved fish were then brought to the colonies and introduced to the local populations.

It is believed that the arrival of bacalao in Puerto Rico can be traced back to the 15th century when Christopher Columbus set foot on the island during his voyages. With the Spanish settlers came a taste for bacalao, which eventually made its way into the local cuisine.

Bacalao Guisado: A Traditional Puerto Rican Dish

Bacalao guisado is a delicious and hearty dish that is deeply rooted in Puerto Rican culture. It is typically made by simmering salted codfish with a variety of ingredients, such as onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and a blend of herbs and spices. The resulting stew is flavorful and satisfying, showcasing the unique flavors of the Caribbean.

This dish is often served during special occasions and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. It has become a staple in Puerto Rican households, passed down through generations and cherished as a symbol of the island’s culinary heritage.

Historical and Cultural Influences on the Recipe

The recipe for bacalao guisado in Puerto Rico has been influenced by both historical and cultural factors. The Spanish colonization introduced the use of salted codfish to the island, which became a staple ingredient in many dishes. However, over time, the Puerto Rican people adapted the recipe to incorporate local flavors and ingredients.

The African influence on Puerto Rican cuisine is also evident in the preparation of bacalao guisado. African slaves brought their own culinary traditions to the island, including the use of certain spices and cooking techniques. These influences can be seen in the rich and bold flavors of the dish.

In addition, the indigenous Taíno people, who inhabited the island before the arrival of the Europeans, also had an impact on Puerto Rican cuisine. Their use of root vegetables, such as yuca and plantains, has been incorporated into the recipe for bacalao guisado, adding an extra layer of flavor and texture to the dish.

In conclusion, bacalao guisado is not just a recipe, but a symbol of Puerto Rican culinary history and cultural fusion. It represents the blending of European, African, and indigenous influences that have shaped the island’s cuisine. Whether enjoyed during a special occasion or as a comforting meal, this traditional dish continues to delight Puerto Ricans and visitors alike.

Ingredients and Preparation of Bacalao Guisado

Discover the key ingredients and step-by-step instructions to make authentic bacalao guisado.

Finding High-Quality Bacalao

To create an authentic and delicious bacalao guisado, it is important to start with high-quality bacalao. Bacalao refers to salted codfish, which is a staple ingredient in many Puerto Rican dishes. Since the taste and texture of the dish heavily rely on the quality of the bacalao, it is crucial to source the best possible fish.

When shopping for bacalao, look for thick fillets that are firm to the touch. Avoid any fillets that feel too soft or have a strong fishy smell. The color of the fish should be white or slightly yellowish. Quality bacalao should not have any blemishes or discoloration. If possible, it is recommended to purchase bacalao from a trusted fishmonger or specialty store to ensure its authenticity and freshness.

Required Ingredients for Bacalao Guisado

To create a flavorful bacalao guisado, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. Bacalao fillets: 2 pounds
  2. Green bell peppers: 2, sliced
  3. Onions: 2, sliced
  4. Garlic cloves: 4, minced
  5. Tomato sauce: 1 cup
  6. Potatoes: 4, peeled and cubed
  7. Olives: 1/2 cup, pitted and sliced
  8. Capers: 1/4 cup
  9. Adobo seasoning: 1 tablespoon
  10. Black pepper: 1/2 teaspoon
  11. Bay leaves: 2
  12. Olive oil: 1/4 cup
  13. Cilantro: Chopped, for garnish

These ingredients are essential for an authentic Puerto Rican bacalao guisado. They create a harmonious blend of flavors that make this dish truly special.

The Traditional Cooking Process

Once you have gathered all the necessary ingredients, follow these step-by-step instructions to prepare your bacalao guisado:

  1. Soak the bacalao fillets in water overnight to remove excess salt. Change the water a few times during the soaking process.
  2. After soaking, drain the bacalao fillets and cut them into small pieces.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the sliced onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic to the skillet. Sauté until they become tender and aromatic.
  5. Add the bacalao pieces to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, stirring gently to combine the flavors.
  6. Pour in the tomato sauce and stir well.
  7. Add the cubed potatoes, olives, capers, adobo seasoning, black pepper, and bay leaves. Stir everything together.
  8. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  9. Remove the bay leaves and garnish the dish with chopped cilantro.
  10. Serve the bacalao guisado hot with white rice and enjoy!

Note: Bacalao guisado is a dish that gets better with time. Consider preparing it a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld together even more.

By following these steps and using high-quality ingredients, you can create a delicious and authentic bacalao guisado that showcases the flavors of Puerto Rico. Enjoy this traditional dish as a main course for a memorable meal.

Flavors and Variations of Bacalao Guisado

When it comes to bacalao guisado, Puerto Rico offers a wide array of regional flavors and variations that make this traditional dish special. Each region showcases its unique twist by using different ingredients and seasonings, resulting in various delightful combinations that cater to different taste preferences. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds as we take a closer look at the diverse flavors and variations of bacalao guisado in Puerto Rico.

Regional Differences in Ingredients and Seasonings

In Puerto Rico, the ingredients used in bacalao guisado can vary from region to region. While the core components remain the same – salted codfish, sofrito (a flavor-packed sauce made with onions, peppers, garlic, and culantro), and tomatoes – the variations lie in the additional ingredients and seasonings used.

In the eastern region of Puerto Rico, it is common to find bacalao guisado prepared with sweet and spicy peppers, capers, and olives. These ingredients add a burst of flavor and a pleasant tanginess to the dish. On the other hand, in the western region, the dish may feature root vegetables such as yuca (cassava) or green bananas, which contribute a unique taste and texture.

Moving towards the northwestern part of the island, you’ll discover that locals prefer adding a touch of sweetness to their bacalao guisado. This is achieved by using raisins or honey as a complementary flavor to counterbalance the saltiness of the codfish. In the southern region, coconut milk often makes an appearance, giving the dish a rich and creamy twist.

Popular Variations of Bacalao Guisado

Beyond the regional differences, there are popular variations of bacalao guisado enjoyed across Puerto Rico. One such variation is the “Bacalao Guisado a la Vizcaína.” This recipe originated from the Basque Country in Spain and was brought over to Puerto Rico during the colonial era. It incorporates the use of sliced potatoes, peppers, onions, and a touch of red wine, resulting in a hearty and flavorful dish.

Another favorite is “Bacalao Guisado en Salsa Criolla.” Here, the codfish is cooked in a rich tomato-based sauce infused with vinegar and annatto oil, providing a tangy and slightly spicy taste. This variation is beloved by many for its vibrant flavors and is often served during special occasions and holidays.

Beyond the Traditional: Creative Bacalao Guisado Recipes

While the traditional bacalao guisado recipes are undeniably delicious, many creative twists have emerged over the years. These innovative recipes showcase the versatility of this dish and provide exciting alternatives for those looking to expand their culinary horizons.

One such creative recipe is “Bacalao Guisado Tostones Cups.” Instead of serving the codfish over rice, it is placed inside crispy tostones (fried plantain cups), creating a delightful contrast of textures. This recipe is perfect for parties or as a unique appetizer for a dinner gathering.

For those who enjoy pasta, “Bacalao Guisado Pasta” offers an interesting fusion of Puerto Rican and Italian cuisine. The codfish is incorporated into a creamy tomato sauce that is tossed with al dente pasta, resulting in a fusion dish that combines the best of both worlds.

These creative recipes demonstrate how bacalao guisado can be reinvented to suit different palates and occasions. Whether you prefer the traditional flavors or enjoy exploring new culinary territories, Puerto Rico’s bacalao guisado is a dish that will always leave you wanting more.

The Cultural Significance of Bacalao Guisado in Puerto Rican Cuisine

Bacalao guisado holds a special place in Puerto Rican cuisine as a dish that represents the island’s rich cultural heritage and identity. This traditional recipe showcases the fusion of African, Spanish, and Indigenous influences that have shaped Puerto Rican culture throughout history. Bacalao, or salted codfish, was introduced to the island during the colonial era and has since become a staple in Puerto Rican households.

Bacalao guisado is not just a dish; it is a symbol of Puerto Rican resilience and survival. The use of salted codfish can be traced back to an era when fresh fish was scarce on the island. The preservation method of salting allowed Puerto Ricans to have access to fish all year round, despite living on an island with limited resources. This adaptability and resourcefulness are deeply embedded in the Puerto Rican identity.

The flavors and techniques used in bacalao guisado reflect the diverse cultural influences that have shaped Puerto Rican cuisine. The dish combines the bold flavors of sofrito (a traditional Puerto Rican sauce made with onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs), tomatoes, olives, and capers. These ingredients were brought to the island by different cultures and have become integral to Puerto Rican cooking.

Bacalao Guisado in Traditional Celebrations and Festivals

In Puerto Rico, bacalao guisado holds a prominent place in traditional celebrations and festivals. One such celebration is the annual San Juan Bautista festival, held in June. This festival honors the patron saint of Puerto Rico and showcases the island’s vibrant culture, music, and cuisine. Bacalao guisado is often served during this festival as a way to pay homage to Puerto Rican culinary traditions.

Bacalao guisado also plays a significant role in holiday feasts, particularly during Christmas and Easter. It is a beloved dish that brings families and communities together to celebrate and share their cultural heritage. The aroma of this flavorful dish fills Puerto Rican households during these festive occasions, creating a sense of warmth and nostalgia.

The Influence of Bacalao Guisado on Puerto Rican Culture

The influence of bacalao guisado extends beyond its culinary significance and has permeated various aspects of Puerto Rican culture. It is found in traditional music, literature, and art, serving as a symbol of identity and cultural pride. Artists have depicted the preparation and enjoyment of bacalao guisado in their works, capturing the essence of Puerto Rican traditions.

The dish has also influenced Puerto Rican dance forms, such as bomba and plena. These lively and rhythmic dances are often performed during celebrations where bacalao guisado is served. The connection between food, music, and dance highlights the integral role that bacalao guisado plays in Puerto Rican cultural expressions.

Bacalao Guisado: A Culinary Journey Through Generations

Bacalao guisado has been passed down through generations in Puerto Rican families, with each household adding its own unique twist to the recipe. This culinary journey has allowed the dish to evolve and adapt over time, while still retaining its cultural significance.

‍ Grandmothers and mothers have passed on their knowledge and techniques for preparing bacalao guisado to younger generations, ensuring that the tradition continues. This intergenerational exchange fosters a sense of pride and connection to Puerto Rican heritage.

️ Whether enjoyed at a traditional celebration, a family gathering, or a local restaurant, bacalao guisado remains a beloved and cherished dish in Puerto Rican cuisine. Its cultural significance, historical roots, and mouthwatering flavors make it a true symbol of Puerto Rican identity and heritage.

Where to Find Authentic Bacalao Guisado in Puerto Rico

When it comes to experiencing the authentic flavors of bacalao guisado in Puerto Rico, you’re in for a treat. This traditional dish is a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine, and there are plenty of places where you can indulge in its deliciousness. Whether you’re a fan of historical eateries, modern restaurants, or hidden gems, Puerto Rico has something to offer for every taste bud.

Historical Eateries Serving Traditional Bacalao Guisado

For a taste of history along with your bacalao guisado, look no further than these historical eateries. These establishments have been serving up traditional recipes for generations, ensuring an authentic experience like no other.

  1. La Mallorquina – Founded in 1848, La Mallorquina is one of the oldest restaurants in San Juan. Here, you can savor their bacalao guisado recipe, which has been passed down through the generations. The cozy atmosphere and rich flavors make this a must-visit spot.
  2. Café Manolín – Located in the heart of Old San Juan, Café Manolín is a local favorite for its traditional Puerto Rican dishes. Their bacalao guisado is a standout, with tender fish and a rich tomato-based sauce. Don’t forget to try their famous mofongo as well!

Note: When visiting these historical eateries, it’s recommended to make a reservation in advance as they tend to get busy, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Modern Restaurants Elevating Bacalao Guisado

For those who prefer a modern twist on their bacalao guisado, Puerto Rico has a burgeoning food scene with innovative chefs who are pushing the boundaries of traditional cuisine. Here are a couple of establishments that are taking bacalao guisado to new heights:

  • La Jaquita Baya – This trendy restaurant in Condado is known for its fusion of flavors. Their bacalao guisado combines traditional ingredients with a modern twist, resulting in a dish that is both familiar and exciting. The stylish ambiance and creative presentation make it an excellent choice for a memorable dining experience.
  • Caña by Juliana González – Located in the heart of San Juan, Caña is a hotspot for food enthusiasts. Their innovative take on bacalao guisado includes unique ingredients and cooking techniques. Each bite is a burst of flavor and a testament to the creativity of Puerto Rican cuisine.

Hidden Gems: Local Favorites for Bacalao Guisado

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience, discover the hidden gems that locals flock to for their bacalao guisado fix. These lesser-known spots offer an authentic taste of Puerto Rican culture.

Restaurant Location Highlights
El Buen Sabor de Puerto Rico Carolina A family-owned restaurant known for its authentic flavors and generous portions of bacalao guisado.
El Patio de Sam Rincon A laid-back eatery with a cozy atmosphere, serving up delicious bacalao guisado and other local specialties.

Note: These hidden gems may have limited seating and operating hours, so it’s advisable to call ahead or check their websites for the latest information.

Now that you know where to find authentic bacalao guisado in Puerto Rico, it’s time to embark on a culinary adventure. Explore the historical eateries, indulge in the modern twists, or seek out the hidden gems to satisfy your cravings. Prepare to be delighted by the flavors and traditions of this beloved Puerto Rican dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for taking the time to read our article on bacalao guisado Puerto Rico! We hope you found it informative and interesting. If you have any further questions or if there’s anything else you’d like to know about this traditional Puerto Rican dish, please feel free to reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to help you! Make sure to visit our website again later for more articles and updates on Puerto Rican cuisine. ¡Gracias y hasta luego!

No. Questions Answers
1. Q: What exactly is bacalao guisado? A: Bacalao guisado is a traditional Puerto Rican stew made with salted codfish, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and a variety of spices. It is a flavorful and hearty dish that is often served with white rice and avocado.
2. Q: Is bacalao guisado difficult to make? A: While bacalao guisado may require a few additional steps compared to other dishes, it is not overly difficult to make. With the right ingredients and some patience, you can create a delicious and authentic bacalao guisado in your own kitchen.
3. Q: Can I substitute fresh codfish for salted codfish? A: It is possible to substitute fresh codfish for salted codfish, but it will significantly alter the taste and texture of the dish. Salted codfish adds a unique flavor and saltiness to the stew that is characteristic of bacalao guisado. If you choose to use fresh codfish, make sure to adjust your seasonings accordingly.
4. Q: Are there any variations of bacalao guisado? A: Yes, there are variations of bacalao guisado that incorporate different ingredients and flavors. Some recipes may add olives, capers, or even potatoes to the stew. These variations offer different taste experiences while still capturing the essence of this traditional Puerto Rican dish.
5. Q: Can I freeze leftover bacalao guisado? A: Yes, you can freeze leftover bacalao guisado for later consumption. Make sure to store it in an airtight container or freezer bag to maintain its freshness. When ready to eat, simply thaw and reheat the stew on the stovetop or in the microwave.
6. Q: What are some side dishes that pair well with bacalao guisado? A: Bacalao guisado is commonly served with white rice and avocado. Other side dishes that pair well with this stew include tostones (fried plantains), sweet plantains, or a simple green salad. These accompaniments help balance out the flavors and add additional textures to the meal.

Come Back Soon!

Thank you for taking the time to read our article about bacalao guisado Puerto Rico. We hope you enjoyed learning about this traditional Puerto Rican dish and are inspired to try it for yourself. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Make sure to bookmark our website and visit us again later for more articles and updates on Puerto Rican cuisine. ¡Hasta luego!

Jump to Recipe

Delicious and Authentic Bacalao Guisado Recipe from Puerto Rico | 101 Simple Recipe

Bacalao Guisado Puerto Rico

Learn how to make a delicious and authentic bacalao guisado, a traditional Puerto Rican stew made with salted codfish, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and a variety of spices. This flavorful and hearty dish is often served with white rice and avocado, and is a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 350 kcal


  • 1 pound salted codfish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro or parsley for garnish


  • Soak the salted codfish in cold water overnight to remove excess salt. Change the water several times throughout the soaking process.
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are softened.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Rinse the soaked codfish under cold water and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the codfish to the pot and gently mix everything together.
  • Cover the pot and let the stew simmer over low heat for about 1 hour, or until the codfish is cooked through and tender.
  • Once the stew is ready, garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve hot with white rice and avocado slices.
Keyword bacalao guisado, Puerto Rican food, Puerto Rican cuisine, traditional recipe