Bacalao in Spain
Bacalao in Spain

Cod, or Bacalao is one of the favorite fish used for Christmas dishes in Spain, but due to its versatility, it is also possible to find it in everyday stews. You can eat it baked, grilled, with potatoes or "a la Vizcaína"; this last stew is also known as Spanish style cod. 

Cod a la Vizcaína is a typical dish of Basque gastronomy, with salted cod as the main ingredient. It is accompanied by the so-called vizcaína sauce and is usually served in an earthenware casserole dish.

Ingredients

  • Two fresh and desalted codfish
  • A kilo of potatoes
  • One large onion
  • Three tomatoes
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • Parsley (one branch)
  • Two green peppers
  • 50 grams of wheat flour
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Elaboration

  • Before cooking the cod, it must be desalted. To do this, it will be necessary to soak it in the refrigerator for two days. The water should always be cold and should be changed at least four times during this period. Ice cubes can be added in the process.
  • Place plenty of water and a handful of salt in a large saucepan. Pour in the cod with the peeled and washed potatoes.
  • Bring to the boil.
  • Once the cod is cooked, take it out and put it in a large bowl. If you bought fresh cod, with scales, skin and bones, it is time to clean it well. Once the fish is clean, cut it into strips and set it aside. 
  • The cooked potato should be cut into slices, more or less thinly. Once this is done, set the potatoes aside.
  • In the water from cooking the cod and the potatoes, pour in the wheat flour and mix it.
  • Peel and slice the onion.
  • Pour a drizzle of olive oil into the frying pan and fry the onion until soft.
  • Peel the tomatoes, wash them and cut them in half, removing the seeds. Fry the tomato with the onion.
  • Add the three cloves of garlic, the parsley (washed) and the mixture of water and flour.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • When the tomatoes are cooked, remove them.
  • Wash the peppers and roast them, removing the skin and seeds. You should chop them into julienne strips.
  • In a tray or container of sufficient size, place a layer of cod, a layer of potatoes and a layer of peppers on top. The tray can be a special one for the oven or any container that is suitable for the oven.
  • Cover the tray with the tomatoes and the tomato sauce.
  • Preheat the oven for ten minutes at 180-200 degrees Celsius.
  • Bake for a few minutes until the stew takes color. This step will not take more than 15 minutes.

Tips for preparing the Spanish style codfish

For a better preparation of Bacalao a la Vizcaína, you can follow a series of tips and tricks that will make your guests want to repeat the dish: 

  • When removing the salt from the fish, make sure that it is soaked for long enough. Additionally, It is very important that the fish is placed in the bowl after having filled it with water. If the fish is placed first and then the water, the fish could break.
  • The type of cod you buy also determines the quality of the stew. It is important not to buy cod that is too white or yellow, as this may indicate that the fish is bad or that it has been previously washed with sodium; you can ask the fishmonger if the cod has been treated.
  • When frying the onions, it is advisable not to use too much oil, as excess oil could spoil the flavor of the stew. It is also important to take care of the cooking times, as this dish is best eaten hot, just out of the oven and not reheated in the microwave.
  • It is advisable to serve it in an earthenware dish, as this is not only traditional, but also helps to maintain the heat and gives a different flavor to the dish.
  • Finally, always accompany this stew with a slice of bread, as the sauce is ideal for soaking into the bread.

The benefits of Spanish-style codfish

Biscayan-style cod is not only a traditional gastronomic dish with an unbeatable taste, but it also provides a series of benefits for the body, since it is made with vegetables and fish. Thanks to its ingredients it is possible to obtain quality proteins, which are essential for the correct functioning of the organism, the maintenance of body mass and the body's defenses.

The onion has antioxidant, diuretic and depurative properties, as well as being good for digestion. Garlic is recommended to protect the heart and reduce blood pressure, while peppers contribute vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, and are also low in calories. Cod is rich in quality proteins, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B, D and E.

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