Recipe Bacalao (Salt Cod) pil pil Style

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Recipe Bacalao (Salt Cod) pil pil Style

This is the most famous dish of Bilbao (the Basque Country) and its origins lie in the 19th century. Pil-pil, an emulsion made with garlic, oil, dried chilli peppers and the gelatine from cod skin, is an onomatopoeia referring to the sound that the oil makes as it gently bubbles when it reaches 90oC.


200 gr of bacalao per person

¾ parts extra virgin olive oil

¼ part weaker olive oil

4 cloves of garlic

1 guindilla (chili)

A bit of fresh parsley


1.    Depending on the thickness of the bacalao, between 48 and 24 hours before the rest of the preparation, soak the bacalao in cold water to desalinate it. Change the water approximately every 8 hours and test the fish regularly to see when it is at the desired level of saltiness, then remove.

2.    In a large pan, place enough of the oil mixture to cover the bacalao.

3.    Chop the garlic and fry it in the oil until golden brown then remove from the oil and let drain onto some paper towel. Turn the heat off and allow the oil to cool for 3 minutes

4.    Dry the soaked bacalao thoroughly, then place each piece of bacalao skin side up into the pan, with the heat still off and leave the fish in the oil until the fish falls apart when touched and is tender.

5.    Transport the bacalao to a bowl and allow the pieces to drain their juices for approximately 3 minutes.

6.    Pour the juice from the bacalao into a pan, using a strainer. Stir the juice so that the oils and the solids mix with the oil into one sauce.

7.    Little by little add spoonfuls of the oil that was used to confit the bacalao into the juices stirring consistently so the oil is fully incorporated. Halfway through the process add a little water or fish stock to the juices.

8.    Return the pieces of bacalao back into the pan and pour the new sauce (pilpil) over the cod, covering the pieces fully.

9.    Finish the dish by plating the pieces of cod with the pilpil sauce and garnishing with the fried garlic, sprigs of parsley and slices of chili.


Recipe Bacalao (Salt Cod) pil pil Style

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