Cod with Chilli & Garlic - Bacalao al pil-pil 

Cod with Chilli & Garlic Recipe, know as Bacalo al pil-pil here in Spain.  This is a traditional dish originating from the Basque Country, but is a very well known dish all over Spain. The trick to this recipe is the sauce which can be a bit tricky.

Popular Fish eaten in Spain


Serves 2

2 salt cod steaks, fresh or frozen

4 medium garlic cloves sliced

1 red chili

120 ml olive oil

salt to taste

Cod with Chilli & Garlic Recipe

Cod with Chilli & Garlic Recipe


Note: The salted codfish must be soaked in water for AT LEAST 24 hours, though preferably 48 hours before cooking. This is necessary to leach out the salt. Change the water 2 to 3 times in a 24-hour period. If this is not done, the fish will be so salty that it will not be edible!

Cut the cod into smaller pieces, (3”x 3”) so that it has more area to absorb the water, rinse the pieces under cold water and rub the outside to remove any excess salt.

Place the chunks of fish into a large glass baking dish in a single layer. Add water to the dish until fish is completely covered.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Change the water 2 to 3 times over the next 24 hours.

Discard the salty water and pat the fish dry with kitchen paper.

Pour the olive oil in a medium non-stick pan 

Peel and thickly slice the cloves of garlic cut off the top of the chilli and remove the seeds. Then cut the pepper into rings Add the garlic and red chili to the oil.

Place the pan over medium-low heat. Gently simmer the garlic and pepper in the warm oil for 4 minutes until the garlic is golden. Don’t let it burn! Then remove the fried garlic and chili. Keep it for garnish later.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the salt cod steaks (skin side down) to the hot oil.

Simmer the cod for 10 minutes on one side. Don’t turn them over.

Remove the cod and place them on a plate. Cover with tinfoil to keep them warm. Take the pan off the heat and let the olive oil cool down. Then pour the oil in a high cup but leave a thin layer of it in the pan. With a balloon whisk, whisk the olive oil in the pan until it starts to look a little pale.

Then little by little add teaspoons of the remaining oil you put aside. Add a little flour if necessary to thicken the mix. In the end you should get a creamy sauce. This can take about half an hour.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the cooked salted cod steaks onto plates and cover with the sauce. Sprinkle with the fried garlic and red pepper. Serve immediately.

Serve as a tapas dish or as a main meal with runner beans and boiled new potatoes.

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