Holy Week in Manila and Bacalao

It is a tradition in my family  to eat bacalao on Good Friday.  Bacalao is a Spanish or Portuguese dish of salted cod fish in a tomato stew. My grandma (God bless her soul) made a mean bacaloa…Then when she was too old to cook it we ordered the dish from Casino Espanol…  my abuela’s recipe is much much better. So to keep the tradition alive I make bacalao every Palm Sunday in advance….by Good Friday all the flavors of the different ingredients have come together like the melody from an orchestra! So here is the recipe:


15 ml Olive Oil
100g Onions minced
10g Garlic minced
100g Chorizo Bilbao (optional for those fasting)
500g Salted Cod Fish (soaked overnight and water removed)
100g Pimiento (diced)
400g Garbanzos
100g Olives
500 ml Stewed Tomatoes
150 ml  Tomato Sauce
Dash of Paprika

Saute all ingredients placing them one at a time. Simmer under low flame for 1 hour. Do not serve right away. This dish must be made at least three days in advance.

Today is Palm Sunday the start of holy week… I belong to the Voltes 5  generation so growing up I remember we didn’t have cable TV back then, so there was nothing to watch on the television except  Charlton Heston’s “10 Commandments”, Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra”, and “Noah’s Arc” which were 6 hour movies…Then on Good Friday all the TV stations would be off. I never really understood why the elders didn’t allow us to take a bath on Good Friday….

I was a teenager in the 80’s and that was the era of the betamax and VHS tapes.  Reservations at the video store had to made in advance or else you ended up with nothing to watch.  Funny how today’s generation now refer to betamax as the barbecued cubed blood street food that resembles the now ancient video tapes. Then Maundy Thursday is the day we do “Bisita Igelisia” or visit 7 churches to do the stations of the cross.  Maundy Thursday for me and my siblings is also street food- food trip day!!!  After visiting a church we would buy from the different vendors selling peanuts, corn, balut (embreyo of duck eggs), quail eggs, pop corn, chicharon, fishball, and so on.

Today Holy Week is still a time of prayer…it is also the time when bus loads of friends and family bond to leave the city to be together….Easter Sunday the week long fast ends with lechon (roasted pig) and a feast….Filipinos love to eat and be with family.


About Pam

Teacher, cook, foodie, wanderlust
This entry was posted in blog, Philippine Cuisine. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Holy Week in Manila and Bacalao

  1. Nides & Lu says:

    Long Live the Bacalao tradition…I do that here in New Jersey for years…

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