How to make an easy stew saltfish, Caribbean style.

3.7.22 | Recipe by Renz

Learn to make a delicious stew saltfish (salted cod) Caribbean style. Cooked up with an abundance of vegetables and fresh herbs and spices, this dish is healthy and flavorful.

A plate of stew saltfish with ground provision on a white plate. And a serving bowl of stewed saltfish on the side.

We Caribbean people love our saltfish. We use it to make a lot of different dishes ranging from breakfast options to lunch and even a snack. It's a pretty versatile meat.

It's always an excellent cook. Or it's maybe just me since I love using it.

In this dish, the main ingredients are salt fish or salted cod, onions, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, and seasoning.

If you want to try out this delicious meal, then follow the simple steps.

And if you want to try some saltfish, simmered down in some coconut milk and okra, then try this saltfish rundown.


What is salted cod?

Salt fish is a white fish that is salted and dried for preservation.

The types of fishes used to dry to create salted fish would be cod, Haddock, and whiting to name a few.

Prior to the use of the fish, it needs to be desalinated and rehydrated. This can be done by the different methods I list below.

What is stew saltfish?

I know I've shared other stews of chicken and oxtail, where we caramelize sugar and then add meat to the pot.

Stew saltfish is a bit different. There is no browning of sugar for this one. This stew is made up of a lot of chopped vegetables, especially tomatoes, all mixed together with the saltfish and heated through.

Stew saltfish is an easy way to cook saltfish. Try out my recipe and let me know what you think!

Ingredients for stew saltfish:

We really want to build flavors in this dish with a lot of fresh ingredients. My list you might find a little long, or you may not have everything on hand. That's okay.

A picture of ingredients for making stew saltfish.

Another great thing about this dish is that you can simply use any vegetables you have on hand to create it.

  • saltfish - which is salted cod fish.
  • oil - you can use vegetable oil or coconut oil is also a great option.
  • pimento peppers.
  • garlic cloves.
  • onion - I like using a yellow onion for this dish.
  • tomato.
  • celery.
  • bell pepper/sweet peppers.
  • scallions/green onions.
  • fresh thyme.
  • hot pepper.
  • black pepper.
  • chadon beni.
  • salt (optional).

12-inch skillet
Large bowl

How To Make Stew Saltfish

This dish comes together quickly. I would suggest making sure you have everything chopped up and ready to go from the beginning.

What has really helped me cut down time with chopping things, is this chopper I found. I actually sometimes chop things up the night before and just store them in the fridge.

The next important thing is to remove the salt from the saltfish. I always use the soak-out method and I don't really have to soak it overnight either. Choose whatever you prefer.

I put the fish in a bowl of room temperature water. And let it sit in that water for about 15 minutes to help rehydrate and remove the excess salt.

Salted cod soaking in water to remove excess salt and rehydrate.

I then throw that water off and let that soak for another 15 minutes. I start shredding the saltfish then and also test for saltiness. If it's too salty then I do another soak and rinse.

There is no set amount of rinses, as it depends on how salted your package is.

Once the salt is removed, then you can chip it up into pieces.

A collage of two pictures, one is saltfish with salt, the other is after the removal of the salt.

Now the meat is ready and the vegetables are ready.

On medium-high heat, warm up a wide pan. Add your oil to the pan and heat that up.

Once heated add in your veggies and spices. I do not add it all together. I start with my celery, onions, peppers (pimento and hot pepper), garlic, and scallions. Saute those until the onions are opaque.

Vegetables sautéd in oil prior to adding saltfish to the pot.

Lower the heat to medium, then add in the chopped-up saltfish. Make sure to squeeze out any excess water it may have collected while soaking and then sitting waiting to be cooked.

Saute that for about 5-6 minutes, incorporating the fish into the vegetables.

Then add in tomatoes, fresh thyme and chadon beni and black pepper. For another five minutes cook this till it's all mixed together.

Chopped up saltfish added to the sautéd vegetables.

Taste for additional salt and adjust as needed. You can also adjust for heat level and add more using some hot pepper sauce.

Remove from the heat. The meat does not take long to cook and we want some of the vegetables to have a little crunch.

Adding the final fresh herbs to the pot of saltfish and vegetables.

Serve hot with your favorite side dish.

What goes good with saltfish?

Now to find the perfect thing to pair with this dish.

  • I would easily say some dumplings. It can be either flour (my favorite) or cassava is also great. These won't be made in the shape of spinners but into the discs ones that we consider a side dish.
A bowl of stewed saltfish and individual plates of ground provisions and avocado.

How to store leftover bacalao

This dish can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure the container it's stored in is airtight and keeps out moisture.

This can be reheated on the stove. Just add to a hot pot on medium heat and stir till heated through.

Please note that this can also be eaten cold.

Can you cook saltfish without soaking it?

You must remove the salt from the saltfish to cook it. There is just too much salt used to make sure it is preserved properly.

There are ways to remove the salt other than soaking it. You can boil the saltfish in water or chip it up into small pieces then wash it out under running water.

Whatever method you choose will depend on how much time you have.

A spoonful of stew saltfish over a big bowl of saltfish.

How long should I boil salt fish?

If I ever need to boil saltfish (this method is my least favorite), I typically boil it for about 20 - 25 minutes.

Do you soak saltfish in hot or cold water?

I usually soak it in room temperature fresh water (from the tap). I honestly do not think it makes a difference if you use hot water or cold water. Especially since boiling in hot water is one way to remove the salt.

A serving of saltfish with sweet potatoes, boiled cassava, and avocado.

Check out some more saltfish recipes: