Cod al pil pil

Cod al Pil Pil is a traditional dish from the Basque Country. This recipe might seem easy but pil pil sauce is tricky to thicken. This is why new techniques to cook al pil pil (which is a sauce that is an emulsion of olive oil and the gelatine detached from the fish) have appeared over the last few years. Today we present you two ways of cooking this cod al pil pil: the first one is more traditional and the second one is easier. Let’s get started!


  • 4 desalted cod loins not too thick (desalt it during 48 hours, changing the water three times)
  •  250 gr olive oil
  •  5 garlic cloves
  •  Some chili rings


  1. Desalt the cod during another 36 hours, changing the water at least 3 or 4 times. In order to do so, put the cod in a container with water (the water volume should be five times the weight of the cod, and the ideal water temperature should be 4 Celsius degrees).
  2. Now clean it: remove the scales, peel off the spines and get it dry.
  3. Put a pot over a low heat and add some oil, garlic cloves cut in blades and the chili rings. Once they start to color, withdraw them and put them aside.
  4. Let the oil get warm by removing it from the fire. Once it has got a bit colder, put it to the fire again and add the cod. Put it to boil for 10 minutes. You cannot add the cod when the oil is hot because it would fry and you would not get the pil pil sauce. Thus, you need to cook it over a low heat (between 53-60 Celsius degrees) while you move the pot’s content in order to create the pil-pil sauce. You must never fry the content!
  5. In another casserole pot, add some oil  from the cooking of the cod. When it gets warm, we put the fish with the fish skin facing down.
  6. Move the cod inside the pot in circles softly but constantly so that it soaks the sauce. Add some oil little by little. Make sure the pot is warm, neither hot nor cold. You may want to put the pot back to the heat for some seconds so that to keep the perfect temperature.
  7. When the boiling finished, it is garnished with garlics and some chili rings.

A second recipe for the pil pil

First of all, for this second tecnique you will need a small strainer.

Once the oil, in which cod has been preserved, is warm, we introduce it into a pot. We will move it with small movements with the strainer. The gelatine will start emulsify little by little, and once it is done, we add it to the cod. We boil it for the last time and then we add the garlic.

Text by Lola Soto Moreno

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