Salt Cod, Biscay Style (Bacalao a la Viscaina)

Salt cod is immensely popular all over Spain and it is cooked in a variety of delicious ways. This particular dish is a classic from the Basque country.


serves 6
1 kg (2 lb) Salt cod, soaked in cold water for 24 hours
40 g (1 1/2 oz) 1/3 cup Seasoned flour (flour with salt and pepper to taste)
50 ml (2 fl oz) 1/4 cup Olive oil
2 Large onions, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
700 g (1 1/2 lb) Canned peeled tomatoes
2 slices White bread, crusts removed
2 Fresh red or green chillis, seeded and chopped
425 g (14 oz) Canned pimientos, drained and cut into strips
3 Tbs Fine dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbs Finely chopped parsley


1. Drain the salt cod and transfer to a large saucepan. Just cover with cold water. Set the pan over low heat and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the salt cod. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and cut into 5 cm (2 in) pieces. Coat the fish pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess and set aside.

2. Heat half the oil in a large, deep frying-pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry until they are soft. Add the tomatoes and can juice and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a small saucepan. Add the bread slices and fry until they are evenly browned. Remove from the heat and cut the bread into small pieces. Stir the bread pieces and chillis into the tomato mixture and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (Gas Mark 4, 350°F).

5. Spread half the tomato mixture over the bottom of a medium baking dish. Cover with the salt cod pieces, then top with the remaining tomato mixture. Arrange the pimi-ento strips over the top.

6. Mix the breadcrumbs and parsley together and sprinkle over the mixture, then pour over the remaining oil. Put the dish into the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is browned.

7. Remove from the heat and serve at once.

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