Cod al Pil-Pil

Bacalao al pil pil (Cod al pil pil)  is a traditional dish from Spain and popular with Spaniards and tourists alike. The pil pil sauce, which is an emulsion sauce can be tricky to thicken, but it is well worth it once you get the grip of it. 

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600 gr dried cod
½ lt  olive oil
1 garlic head
½  red hot chili pepper



Soak the cod in cold water for 24 to 36 hours, changing the water several times.  Before starting to cook, hold the pieces of cod under cold running water until they are perfectly clean. Remove the scales carefully. Rinse the fish once more and place in a pan of clean water. Place the pan on the heat but do not allow it to boil. When foam starts to form, remove the pan from the heat.

Take out the pieces of cod and lay them on a clean cloth to remove excess water.

While the fish is drying, heat the oil, preferably in an earthenware dish, adding the garlic cloves & the red hot chili pepper. (If you do not like the dish to be spicy, leave the pepper out).

When golden brown, remove the pepper and set aside on a plate. Place the pieces of cod skin downwards in the same oil and move the pan back and forth constantly so that the skin releases its gelatine, which works to bind the sauce being formed round the fish. Depending on the quality of the fish, this process takes between 10 and 15 minutes.

As the oil retains its heat for a good while, the pan should be removed from the heat before starting the process. When the sauce acquires the consistency of mayonnaise, the fish will be ready.

Arrange the garlic and hot red pepper on top of the fish and return to the heat to warm it up again, remembering to keep moving the pan back and forth to prevent the sauce from losing its consistency. The dish may now be served.


Using a stick blender to whip the sauce a bit is a simpler way of thickening the sauce.
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