Bacalao al Pil Pil

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Bacalao al Pil Pil

Denise Campos
If there's one thing that best represents the Basque Country of Spain when it comes to food, it's definitely the Bacalao al Pil Pil. The bacalao, or salted cod as they call it in English, is a very common fish that is used around the region. While "Pil Pil" is one of the Basque Mother Sauces. People would often think fancy or upscale when Basque Country is mentioned, but when you trace everything to its roots, it all comes down to simple, fresh, delicious and traditional. Because Donostia-San Sebastián has easy access to the best and freshest of seafood, they are able to come up with such simple food but will definitely blow your mind and tickle your tastebuds.To cut to the chase, this dish only needs 5 main, or a maximum of 7 ingredients (bread and sauce included!!!). You can pretty much say it's a one pot dish. The catch here though is preparing the fish before it is used, and that takes times.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 36 minutes
Cook Time 27 minutes
Total Time 36 minutes
Course Appetiser, Pintxo, Small plate, Starter, Tapa
Cuisine Basque, Spanish
Servings 4 -6 people
Calories 1120 kcal


  • 800 g Bacalao/salted cod
  • 6-7 cloves Garlic peeled
  • 2-3 pieces Chili red
  • 20 g Parsley
  • 30 mL Wine white
  • 500 mL Oil olive
  • 1 loaf Baguette


  • STEP 1 - Rinse the salted cod thoroughly, and I mean THOROUGHLY. This is to remove the salt used to cure the fish. Once it's free of salt grains, cut the fish into 3x4in cutlets. In a deep pan, lay the cutlets of fish and submerge complete in water. For 36 hours, change the water at least 6 times. Cutting the fish into smaller portions will speed up in lessening the saltiness of the fish. Once it's done, remove from water, pat dry the fillets and lay on a pan lined with tissue.
  • STEP 2 - Thinly slice the cloves of garlic. Cut through the chili peppers and remove the seeds so that it wouldn't be too spicy. You only want a slight kick of spiciness for this dish! Slice the chili peppers after removing the seeds. Finely chop the parsley for garnish. Set these ingredients aside separately.
  • STEP 3 - In a large nonstick pan, add a layer of oil and the sliced garlic, mix until evenly spread out. Turn the heat on low and continuously mix the garlic slivers until they are slightly brown. Once achieved, turn the heat off and remove the garlic from the pan and set aside in a plate that is line with tissue to drain excess oil. DO NOT remove the oil from pan.
  • STEP 4 - Using the same pan, place the (already patted dry) cod skin side up and begin to swirl the fish in the pan. Turn the heat back on to low and continue to swirl the pan in circular motion without stopping. Add about 200ml-250ml of oil and continue the procedure of swirling the pan for about 12-15 minutes still at low heat. As you continue to do this, the fill will then begin to release its juices and those juices will begin to emulsify with the oil, turning into a sauce or a thick emulsion, add the chopped chili and continue to swirl for another minute. Turn the heat off and allow to set for a good five minutes. The Pil Pil sauce will then form and become thicker.
  • STEP 5 - Slice the baguette, drizzle olive oil and toast until light brown and crunchy!
  • STEP 5 - In a cazuela, transfer the fillets of fish gently and pour the sauce over it. Top with the fried garlic and garnish with some chopped parsley!


Sodium: 4mgCalcium: 16mgVitamin C: 9mgVitamin A: 426IUSugar: 1gFiber: 1gPotassium: 55mgCalories: 1120kcalTrans Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 9gFat: 125gProtein: 1gCarbohydrates: 2gIron: 1mg
Keyword Bacalao al Pil Pil
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