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What Is Bacalao? September 5, 2019

Harlem, Manhattan
What Is Bacalao? , Manhattan, New York

Bacalao is one of the oldest seafood dishes in the world. The word means “cod” in Spanish, and it consists of the salted and dried fish. Many seafood restaurants serve their take on the classic dish, either serving it cold or adding a warm sauce for extra flavor. If you want to try a different dish during your next seafood outing, bacalao is a delicious place to start. Below is a guide that details this tasty dish.

The History of Bacalao

Bacalao derived out of necessity. Catching and serving cod is traced as far back as 15th century Norway. Cod was abundant in the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. The Vikings were known to bring bacalao along with them on their journeys, as it was both easy to prepare and carry. Over time, preparing cod spread to different tribes in nearby countries, who then incorporated the fish in their own dishes and prepared them in different styles. 

Since refrigeration wasn’t prominent, prepared seafood had to be consumed quickly or it would spoil. This is why salted codfish was convenient. The fish were gutted, heads removed, and they were entirely covered in salt. They were placed out on rocks or hung on racks to dry in the sun. 

How It’s Prepared

SeafoodToday, the preparation method has changed, but the result is the same. The fish are cleaned, packed in salt, and dried in front of electric heaters. When it comes time to use the fish, restaurants start the desalination process. They soak the fish for one to three days to remove the salt before shredding or slicing it into steaks. Seafood restaurants serve this dish fried, as an added ingredient in stews, or alone with a few vegetables and a lemon wedge. 



Are you ready to try bacalao for yourself? Lolo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem, Manhattan, offers a diverse variety of seafood fare for the curious palate. Specializing in Caribbean and New England flavors, there is a dish to please everyone. Check out their menu online or stop by between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. for their daily happy hour specials. Call (646) 649-3356 to make a reservation or to ask about their catering services. 

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