Cod is a white fish that, at this time, is great because, if you buy it whole or in halves, it is very cheap, has very little fat and is great source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as potassium and phosphorus. The caloric load will depend more on the sauce with which we cook it, since cod a la Riojana is not the same as pilpil, full of oil.
Surely you have heard that in Portugal they have more than a thousand recipes of bacalhau, but in Spain we are not short, thanks to the tradition of the Basques, who, back in the Middle Ages, were among the first fishermen to discover the huge schools of cod on Terra Nova, an island located in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Canada.
And they were also the ones provided half of Europe with their dense and easy-to-preserve meat through techniques such as salting, salting and air-drying or smoking, which allowed them to lengthen their consumption times at a time when transport was not exactly fast.
That’s why it was the most consumed fish in inland Spain, especially by religious mandate during Lent, since other fresh fish were hardly going to get to Madrid (although now they say that in the capital they eat the best fish in the peninsula, ahem …).
But the truth is that these were not always good times for Basque fishermen: there were times whenwe imported cod from Scotland, from Norway or Newfoundland and the quality they sent us was so questionable that recipes had to be invented to disguise the taste. We collect here some of the richest, most typical and popular for you to cook at home.
Cod al pilpil
What better than Karlos Arguiñano’s recipe from his latest book, Good cooking (Planet), which passes through:
- Peel and brown eight cloves of garlic in a wide, low saucepan with plenty of olive oil and add a chilli.
- You separate them and fry four cod fillets on both sides, which you will remove in a bowl while the oil warms up in a bowl.
- You add a little of that oil and the juice that the cod releases into the pan and you tie them with a strainer; You are adding and mixing them little by little without stopping to stir until the pil-pil is thick.
- Then you introduce the loins with the skin facing up.
- Garnish with the garlic and chilli.
Arguiñano also includes this typical Basque delicacy among its 900 recipes and mounts it on toast bread. He recommends:
- Soak four chorizo peppers in a bowl with warm water and remove the meat when they are hydrated.
- You remove the skin from the cod and scald it in a pan with boiling water, drain it and crumble it, but without throwing the water away.
- Chop a clove of garlic, an onion, a green pepper and a potato into cubes and mash them all in a saucepan with oil and salt.
- Then you add half a glass of tomato sauce, the chorizo meat, a crumbled chilli and the flaked cod.
- Sauté it and pour four tablespoons of the blanching water, stir and leave it over low heat for five minutes.
Baked cod with refried
Baked cod is a very useful and easy dish that, again according to Arguiñano, always comes out well:
- Peel four potatoes into thin slices and fry them in the pan with plenty of oil, to which you will add a green pepper cut into thick rings, the julienned onions and four sliced garlic cloves.
- Season and cook until all golden.
- Drain it and spread it in a baking dish and place the fillets of a fresh cod on top with a splash of oil and salt.
- Leave it at 200ºC for 10-12 minutes.
- Cut three garlic cloves into slices, fry them, add a chili pepper in rings and pour them and their oil over the fish.
If you have a clay pot, all the better.
- You fry two chopped onions, three cloves of garlic and a good slice of country bread in olive oil.
- When they brown, add a few tablespoons of chorizo pepper meat, 30 g of tomato sauce, water and salt.
- Let it fry for around 20 minutes while you seal the desalted cod fillets on both sides in a pan.
- Sift the sauce and return it to the casserole with the cod fillets for less than 15 minutes.
Cod a la riojana
- Dry four desalted cod fillets and flour them before browning them in the pan.
- The reserves and pochas are two cloves of garlic and two chopped onions, to which you add white wine.
- When they boil, you add homemade fried tomato, bay leaf and a teaspoon of sweet paprika.
- Simmer for 15 minutes and add two roasted peppers with their own juice to blend with the tomato for another five minutes.
- In a baking dish, preheated to 180ºC, add half of the sauce, distribute the loins and cover them with the other half. 15 minutes maximum.
Cod with sanfaina
- Dice an eggplant, an onion, a red pepper and a zucchini.
- Grate a kilo of tomato and add a teaspoon of sugar.
- Fry eight cod fillets in abundant oil on both sides and reserve on absorbent paper.
- For the sanfaina, in another pan, add a little of that oil and fry the onion, then the pepper; you add the zucchini and, finally, the eggplant.
- At five minutes, you add the tomato and leave it for five more minutes.
- If it is too thick, add a little water before introducing the cod and let it boil for a few minutes.
- Check the salt and let it rest before serving.
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