This cod in vizcaina sauce recipe originates in Vizcaya, the Biscay region of the Basque Country. Vizcaina sauce's distinctive flavour and warm orange-red colour comes from the smoky dried Spanish peppers.
The sauce is not too dissimilar from a romesco sauce, except that it often does not contain tomato. Whether or not to include tomato in vizcaina sauce has become a subject for lively debate amongst chefs, but in this recipe we opted to leave it out to really make the dried pepper shine on its own.
The other ingredients for the cod in vizcaina sauce recipe are all inexpensive store cupboard ingredients which is what makes this sauce so versatile. Most people will associate vizcaina sauce with cod but it is also used in recipes to accompany other fish, pork such as in the dish 'manos de cerdo con salsa vizcaína', snails and vegetables. Serve the dish hot as a small pintxo presented in little porcelain spoons - a taste of the Basque country in a single mouthful. Or otherwise just use the sauce spooned over whole cod fillets.
The Vizcaina sauce can be made and refrigerated or even frozen in advance and used at a later date for a quick canapé.
Cod in Vizcaina Sauce Ingredients Serves: 15
- 4 dried guindilla peppers
- 1 brown onion
- 1 red onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 10g chorizo
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil for the sauce
- 100ml olive oil for the fish
- 2 fillets of cod (skinned or with skin)
- A few thyme leaves to garnish
- Squeeze of lemon juice to taste
- A chinois
- Black porcelain spoons or white tear drop spoons
Cod in Vizcaina Sauce Method
- An hour before cooking, place the peppers in water to soak.
- Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
- Chop the onions and garlic and sweat them over a medium heat until soft but not browned.
- Chop the chorizo into small chunks and add it to the pan. Cook for 5 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the peppers: drain them, reserving the red liquid for later. Slice them open and remove the fleshy pulp of the pepper by scraping a very sharp knife over the skin.
- Add the pulp to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a food processor and blend well. Add a little of the water left over from soaking the peppers to make a sauce. Blend again until homogenous.
- Pass the sauce through a chinois. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Check the seasoning and reserve until ready to serve.
- Just before serving heat 100ml olive oil in the smallest pan you have (the more the fish is submerged in the oil the better it will poach.)
- Cut the cod fillets into small bite-size chunks which will fit in the presentation spoons. Season them with a little salt.
- Check the temperature of the oil by dipping a little cod in it – the fish should not sizzle or produce any visible reaction when it touches the oil. Poach for 2-3 minutes until the cod is flaky and no longer translucent.
- Remove the fish from the oil and drain on absorbent paper.
- Heat the vizcaina sauce on the hob or in the microwave and place a little at the bottom of each spoon.
- Place the cod on top and garnish with a few little leaves of thyme before serving.