Chamorro-style Bacalao (Salted Cod) Stew

Chamorro-style Bacalao (Salt Cod) Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy but overnight step required
  • Print

 

Chamorro-style bacalao stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, and fava beans-0476-2

After a month’s worth of poultry recipes, I’m ready for a change and heading back to my roots and to the sea.

For some time, I’ve wanted to make this stew that my mother would prepare on occasion.  It’s a classic, and very simple, Chamorro recipe for bacalao (a.k.a. salt cod); coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, and garlic.  Other versions call for peas but always being one to stir the pot I replace the peas with fava beans; they’re in season, they add color, texture, another layer of flavor to the dish, and they like peas, don’t take very long to cook.

Bacalao or salt cod was introduced to the Marianas Islands by the Spanish who brought it with them to eat during their months’ long journey to the islands.  As much as I love this dish it always struck me as odd that it would become so popular given that we had an ocean (Pacific) of fresh fish all around us.

Also, most recipes for bacalao call for soaking the salted cod in milk but milk was a rare commodity during the Spanish colonial days, so water was used instead, and still is to this day.

INGREDIENTS

Chamorro-style Bacalao stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, and fava beans-0432.jpg

  • 1 lb bacalao or salt cod
    • Water (enough to cover the bacalao and soak overnight)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium to large Spanish onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3 – 6 Roma tomatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 13 oz can organic coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups peeled fava beans

DIRECTIONS

Preparation:

Soaking bacalao overnight in water-0432
Place the bacalao in a baking dish, add enough water to cover the salt cod, cover the dish with plastic wrap, soak overnight, drain the water and repeat soaking for another six hours.

  • Soak the bacalao overnight
    • After the bacalao has been soaked twice, drain and cut into 1-inch pieces; set aside.

Prep for peeling Roma tomatoes-0447
Using a sharp paring knife, thinly cut a “+” at the tip of each Roma tomato. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil, add two Romas at a time, blanch for 2 minutes, remove to cool, repeat until all tomatoes have been blanched. Peel away the skin starting at the “+” point. (The skin can be used in a number of ways so do not discard.)

  • Peel the Roma tomatoes, dice; set aside.

Prep for peeling fava beans-0441
After you have removed the individual fava beans from the pods give them a good rinse and set aside. There are two ways that the edible fava bean can be removed from the outer shell: 1. My preferred method is to bring a pot of water to a rapid boil, add the fava beans, blanch for 1 minute, remove from the boiling water, place in an ice bath to cool, drain. Pinch off a small portion of the shell (shown above) and gently squeeze out the fava bean. 2. Using your fingernail, carefully remove the shell. While this method does not involve heating any water there is greater chance of damaging the bean.

  • Prep the fava beans
    • Remove the individual beans from the pods, rinse.
    • Remove the edible fava beans from their outer shell (see photo above); set aside.
  • Peel the onion, dice; set aside.
  • Peel the garlic cloves, finely chop; set aside.

Cooking:

  • Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, add the onions, cook until translucent (about 2 minutes)
  • Add the garlic, cook until aromatic (about 1 minute)
  • Add the diced tomatoes, coconut milk, and water, stir, cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the bacalao pieces, stirring occasionally, cook for 15 minutes.
  • Taste for seasoning
    •  You will def not need salt but you may want a pinch or two of black pepper.
  • Add the fava beans, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Your Chamorro-style bacalao stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, and fava beans is ready.
  • Serve as is or over rice.

Chamorro-style bacalao stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, and fava beans-0476-2
Chamorro-style bacalao stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, and fava beans garnished with fried Roma tomato skin

Chamorro-style bacalao stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, and fava beans-0476-3
ENJOY!

Chamorro-style Bacalao (Salt Cod) Stew

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