Bacalao a la vizcaina

Bacalao a la vizcaina

At the table

By
From
Basque
Serves
4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

Bacalao salao is the true name for salt cod in Spanish, but it is always shortened to just bacalao (cod) or bakailao in Basque.

Preserving food by drying has been a popular method for a long time. When we dry cod with salt, it doesn’t just preserve the fish but adds sweetness and saltiness at the same time. Always use bacalao that’s a gorgeous silvery white in colour; if it’s yellow, it means that it’s bad quality.

This recipe is one of the most popular dishes from the Basque kitchen. If you can cook the peppers over charcoal it will add a deeper flavour to the sauce; if not, then grill them instead.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
800g salt cod
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
5 large red peppers
150ml white wine

Method

  1. Soak the cod in cold water, skin side up, for 24 hours, changing the water a couple of times.
  2. In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the onion and slowly cook until it turns transparent. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook for another 4–5 minutes until the juices from the tomatoes evaporate.
  3. Using a blowtorch or under a very hot grill, blacken the pepper skins all over. Put into a freezer bag, seal and stand for 5 minutes to steam. Remove the skins from the peppers. Halve and discard the seeds, then finely slice. Add the peppers and the wine to the saucepan and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes (I like a crunchy sauce).
  4. Cut the cod into four pieces. In a frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Add the cod, skin side down, and cook for 4 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it is almost ready (you want to finish the cooking in the sauce).
  5. When the fish is almost ready, put into the sauce and cook for another 3 minutes until just cooked.
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