Marriage introduced me to bacalao. My mother-in-law traditionally cooks a bacalao and vegetable dish during Lent and, every year, I remember how she’s remark about how the price of bacalao seems to go higher and higher. Bacalao, or dried salted cod, was not cheap to begin with. But with the prices of fresh fish reaching mind-blowing proportions these days, bacalao no longer seems so pricey in comparison.
Bacalao is associated with Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Brazilian and Puerto Rican cuisines. There are so many recipes with bacalao that it will probably take a lifetime to cook them all with all the known variations. This recipe is for a delicious chunky soup that uses common pantry ingredients.
I bought my bacalao from Shopwise (Libis). I forgot how much. There were four large pieces but I only used two to make the chowder.
To prepare the bacalao, thaw and place in a bowl. Cover with cold water. Cover. Place in the fridge for two days, changing the water every 12 hours to remove the excessive saltiness.
Rinse the bacalao. Place in a pot. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Scoop out the bacalao and cool. Strain the broth. Once you have prepared the bacalao, you are ready to make the chowder.
- 1 and 1/2 c. (or more) of flaked bacalao
6 c. of bacalao broth
4 tbsps. of butter
1/2 c. of chopped onion
1/2 c. of diced carrot
1/3 c. of diced celery
about 3 c. of diced potatoes
4 to 5 large cabbage leaves (I used wombok (pechay Baguio) but you can use white cabbage)
1 c. of cream
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the butter. Add the chopped onion and cook gently, over medium-low heat, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about three minutes.
Add the potatoes. Stir.
Pour in the broth. Bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Flake the bacalao if you haven’t already.
Thinly slice the cabbage.
Add the cabbage and flaked bacalao to the pot. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the bacalao chowder hot with buttered toast.
Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4