Learn the recipe for gallega-style merluza

One of the emblematic dishes of Galician gastronomy is merluza a la gallega. This recipe is beloved by all diners, children and adults alike. This is because, if you know how to prepare it correctly, you can ensure a true delicacy. 

How do you make the merluza a la gallega recipe?

There is a trick to this recipe, as it is important to cook the merluza so that the meat is juicy and has a unique flavour. In addition, making the ajada and accompanying it with paprika, which is present in many gallega dishes, gives this fish that much sought-after traditional touch. 

Merluza in Galicia is always accompanied by boiled potatoes. This is essential if you want to serve a typical dish from the north of Spain at your table. But how do you make it?


  • One merluza in slices. The number of slices depends on the number of people at the table. On average, one person can eat two slices.
  • Three good-sized potatoes.
  • One white onion.
  • Two bay leaves.
  • Six cloves of garlic.
  • A spoonful of sweet paprika.
  • 100 millilitres of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Coarse salt.


  • The first thing you have to do is clean the merluza very carefully and cut it into slices. If you have bought it whole, then it will be necessary to remove the entrails and cut into slices of similar thickness. It is also advisable to remove the scales. You can buy the merluza directly cut at the fishmonger's or frozen.
  • One hour before cooking, add a handful of coarse salt to the merluza slices, so that they are well impregnated. The salting process takes about an hour, so begin with plenty of time.
  • After an hour, wash the merluza slices to remove excess salt and set aside.
  • Cook the onion and the two bay leaves in a sufficiently large pan. Remember to peel the onion.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into uneven pieces. 
  • When the onion and bay leaves have been boiling for five minutes, add the potatoes.
  • Leave the potatoes to cook for about 15 minutes. The potatoes are ready when they are tender, but should not fall apart.
  • Add the merluza slices to the pan with the potatoes and onion. 
  • Leave to cook for five minutes. 
  • It is very important that the merluza are of the same thickness. If they are very thick, the time will be seven minutes. Also, remember to make sure that the slices are uniform, so that the cooking time is the same.
  • Five minutes after cooking the merluza, add a glass of cold water. This allows you to cut the cooking time so that the merluza does not overcook.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest for five minutes.
  • While the merluza is resting, prepare the ajada. 
  • In a saucepan, add the olive oil and the sliced garlic. It is best if the heat is medium, so that the oil does not burn.
  • When the garlic begins to colour, turn off the heat and add the paprika.
  • Stir, so that the garlic and the oil are coated with the paprika.
  • Add a spoonful (use a ladleful) of the stock from cooking the merluza to the sauce.
  • Leave to rest so that all the ingredients settle and finish mixing. The resting time should be approximately one to two minutes.
  • Serve the slices of merluza, bathing them in the ajada.
  • Of course, accompany with potatoes and onion, cut into julienne strips or rings.

Why eat merluza a la gallega style?

Merluza is a type of white fish characterised by its lean meat. This makes it ideal to eat if you are looking after your health, as it does not have much fat: in 100 grams of merluza you will find 1.8 grams of fat. A slice of merluza, depending on its thickness, can weigh little more than 100 grams.

But in addition to the low levels of fat, merluza is also recommended for its levels of high biological value proteins; these proteins contain high levels of amino acids. Merluza also contains B vitamins and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron, among others. 

Merluza can be eaten in many styles and recipes. Grilled or baked, with or without potatoes, but which are considered the perfect garnish to accompany this fish. Traditionally, the fish is prepared in the oven, as it is an easy way to cook it and make the most of the cooking juices. However, in Galicia they prefer to make the merluza cooked, which saves time.

If you want to serve an authentic merluza a la gallega recipe, don't forget that the secret lies precisely in the cooking. It is also advisable to prick the potatoes and merluza with a fork to prevent them from becoming too soft and, consequently, breaking when removed from the pan. 

For a more intense and Galician flavour, be sure to add some scallops or clams.

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