Bacala al pil pil (Spanish-style cod in a pil pil sauce)

Bacalao al pil pil (Spanish-style cod in a pil pil sauce)

Traditionally prepared with desalted bacalao (salt cod), this beloved dish from the Basque region captivates with its aromatic sauce that develops beautifully in the pan. Its flavourful poaching sauce can also be adapted for fresh cod or other white fish fillets, with the option to cut down on the chilli for a milder taste.


  • 4x 200g of fresh cod or white fish
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 250ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 3 small red chillis or to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon of dried parkey
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Sea salt


1. Pat the fish dry with a kitchen towel, then season with sea salt and a touch of freshly ground black pepper

2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil to medium, then cook the garlic until soft and just golden, about 2 minutes. Reserve the garlic aside on a plate.

3. In the same pan, cook the fillets skin down over medium-low for a couple of minutes, then gently flip and cook for another 4 minutes. Use a spatula to set the fillets aside on a plate and cover it, so we can finish the sauce using the released fish juices

4. Reduce the heat to its lowest level and gently move the pan, whisking the olive oil and fish juices into an emulsion for about 5 minutes until you get the right smooth pil pil sauce consistency before adding back the garlic and if using the chilli to cook for another minute or so. You can watch a video demo here.

5. Once your sauce is ready, plate your fish and pour the sauce over it, then garnish with fresh parsley.

6. Enjoy!


Bacala al pil pil (Spanish-style cod in a pil pil sauce)


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