BACALAO CON PAPAS-Codfish with Potatoes

This blog is already blessing my life, I am making new friends I have not yet met in person, or at least not since I was a small child. One of these friends is Rosa Hernandez, and I am thrilled to introduce her to you. Rosa also grew up in Tuinucu, right around the corner from my grandparents. Our parents were friends, her mother and my father went to school together. She remembers coming over to my grandparents house to see my little sister Nina who was just learning to walk. Rosa loves to read, books are big in her world. She also loves cooking and photography and never goes anywhere without a camera! She likes the beach but prefers mountains and meadows and fields. Rosa loves animals, specially dogs.

Just like in my case, in her younger years she wasn't very Cuba oriented. She says, "It was something I was born into like being a Hernandez or having dark hair or wearing glasses. But once I moved away from Miami, I became more aware of my heritage and now I am very interested in all things Cuban". She is passionate about vintage Cuban music (and I hope she will post about that in the future). She would love to visit Ireland, says she has a strong connection with that country for some unexplained reason.

Rosa & her friend Alicita, in Cuba


BACALAO CON PAPAS by Rosa Hernandez

Traditionally, this was made with dry bacalao (codfish). Long, thin, dried as a bone salted fish was soaked overnight. However, in the Cuba I knew (under Communism), dry bacalao was no longer available. Fortunately for us my maternal grandfather worked in the trains that went to Trinidad daily so he was able to bring back fresh fish and shrimp from the coast, often. It always came wrapped in newspapers and hidden inside a milkcan, because it was forbidden to buy anything outside your rations. My mom would use whatever fish was available and she would have to omit some ingredients.
Once we came to the United States, although the salted fish was available in the Cuban markets, she was busy with two jobs and taking care of us all and setting up a house from scratch. So she would buy the frozen cod from the American market and skip the soaking as she had already been doing in Cuba. Sometimes depending on her budget, she would use Pollock fish. It tasted the same and was cheaper. I use the frozen cod to this day. This dish is like a stew or fricasse.


About a pound or so of frozen cod filets
4 medium red potatoes


about 3 tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper finely chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves minced

1 bay leaf
A handful of olives (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
1/2 tablespoon pepper (she and I used white but it's your choice)
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 cup white cooking wine
about a cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup of water


Peel the potatoes and cut them up in medium sized chunks. Set them to boil until they are soft enough to be pierced by a fork. Set them aside when done.
Make the sofrito and add the bay leaf after it's done. Simmer this on low for about a minute.
Add cooking wine, spices and water. Stir, cover and cook for about 3 minutes stirring now and then.
Chop the cod filets into medium to large pieces and add to the sofrito mixture. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes. Keep covered.
Add the potatoes and olives (if using). Stir softly to keep potatoes from breaking up too much. Reduce heat to low. Cook about 5 minutes.
If after 5 minutes it's too watery, uncover and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.

My mother served it over rice. I still do at times but a lot of times I eat it plain with whole wheat rolls.

2 Response to BACALAO CON PAPAS-Codfish with Potatoes

February 15, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Finally !!!!!!! A recipe that I can respect. I cant tell you how much I resonate with this story on more levels than one. It is so hard to find authentic recipes you would think it would be easy but its not. You can always tell if a Cuban recipe is legit / how it will turn out simply by looking at the ingredients in the sofrito. I know that may sound weird to some people but its true. I know my family uses the same Sofrito recipe as most Cubans do, Green Bell pepper, Onion and Garlic balanced the same goes with Mojito & Mojo recipes. To all of the lay people out there reading this no I am not referring to the drink Mojito though that's a discussion for another time but I am referring to the delicious stuff you put on yuca and eat with tostones. Anyways with the exception of adding cilantro or culantro and or different colored bell peppers the basic recipe for sofrito remains the same so when you see recipes that get carried away with ingredients or use anything other than what I just shared with, then you know its someone trying to put their mark somewhere and not sticking to a traditional / authentic recipe and therefore it wont taste the same.

February 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Garlic tamped with salt into a rough paste in a mortar and pestle and a light olive oil regular extra virgin olive oil can be a bit heavy for this so just olive oil or vegetable oil add more salt and lemon or lime juice I prefer lime my sister prefers lemon I think in old school Cuba they used Limon its a lemon lime hybrid kind of like naranja agria . Any who you throw this over cooked yuca with chicharones and you dip tostones in this. I like mine on the strong side heavy garlic with a bite

Naranja Agria: Means bitter/ Sour orange. This one is more like an orange grapefruit /lime hybrid but sometimes you see them in the stores here. This is used in the making of real Mojo not that crap you buy in a bottle or plastic gallon jug that tastes nothing like mojo and is loaded with preservatives.

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