overhead shot of saltfish in a white bowl with bake in the background

Sautéed Saltfish or just simply saltfish is a popular breakfast dish in Guyana and the Caribbean.  Salted fish is fried with aromatics such as onion and garlic, tomatoes and fresh herbs and pepper to make a delectable dish.  It’s a simple dish that requires a little bit of prep work but is well worth it.  Saltfish is typically served with bakes for breakfast but can be enjoyed as a main for lunch or dinner.  Serve over boiled ground provisions or boil and fry cassava.  Sautéed Saltfish also goes well with rice and dhal.

Sautéed Saltfish in bakes with a bottle of pepper in background.
sautéed saltfish in a white bowl with bake in the background

What is Saltfish?

Saltfish is white fish that is cured in salt as a way of preserving fish so it doesn’t requiring refrigeration.  Cod and pollock, are most common but any type of fishes can be used such as bass or snapper.  Saltfish is also known as bacalao and by many other names, is consumed around the world. Fresh fish is salted and dried to remove moisture which helps to preserve it.  In some parts of the Caribbean and Guyana fish is left in the sun to dry.  Growing up in the countryside of Guyana, it was common to see it being dried on zinc sheet or roofs.

flaked saltfish in a clear bowl
overhead shot of ingredients on a cutting board.
sautéed saltfish in a white bowl with bake in the background

How to remove salt from Saltfish?

Saltfish must be rehydrated, and the excess salt has to be removed in order for it to be edible.  There are two ways of doing so.  Rinse excess salt from the saltfish then place in a bowl and cover with cool water.  Leave overnight and by the next day, enough salt should be extracted, making the fish edible.  There is also the boiling method which works quickly.  Rinse excess salt then cover salted fish with water and boil for about 15 minutes the drain.  Repeat this method 2-3 times depending on how salty the fish is.    The fish is now ready to make Sautéed Saltfish.

sautéed saltfish is on a plate served with fried bakes

Types of Salted Fish

Saltfish can come boneless or with bones and skin.  Salted Cod or pollock typically comes with the bones and skin removed.  However, it is common in many countries that the fish is salted whole, bone, skin and head.   To remove, simply boil, allow to cool, then pick remove bones and skin from the flesh.

Dishes to make with Salted Fish

sautéed saltfish in a white bowl with bake in the background

Get the Recipe Sauteed Saltfish


  • 1 lb Boneless, skinless salfish
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 1 hot pepper, wiri wiri or any other will do
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 3 scallion chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp cilantro, chopped


  • Rinse the saltfish in warm water. Boil the salfish in water for 10 minutes. Pour off the water, fill the pot with fresh water and boil for another ten minutes. This is important step to get rid of some of the salt in the saltfish. You can also soak it overnight to remove the salt. Drain the water from the fish and flake with a fork.
  • Heat oil in pan,onions and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic, thyme and pepper.
  • Once the garlic is fragrant add chopped tomatoes.
  • Saute for about 10 minutes on a medium fire, until the tomatoes have broken down. Add flaked saltfish and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add chopped scallion and a splash of lime juice and black pepper in last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook until the liquid had evaporated and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
  • Serve with bake or dhal and rice.


Author: Jehan Powell