‘Balacao a la Vizcaina’ – Spanish Salted Cod

‘Balacao a la Vizcaina’ is a Spanish-style dish (from the Basque region) very common in Mexico and other Latin-American countries during Christmas, New Year’s Eve but also on Easter since the catholic tradition encourages people to eat more fish during Lent (Cuaresma).
This dish can be enjoyed as a main dish but also one of the best ways to enjoy it is on a sandwich or torta made with fresh, crunchy, warm bolillos (Mexican french bread), add some avocado slices, some sour cream and you are in for a treat.

Ingredients:

  • 1-½ Lbs Salted Cod
  • 2 Lbs. pan-roasted or grilled Tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup pitted olives or stuffed with pimientos
  • 1-½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 large potatoes peeled and diced
  • 3 Red/Orange bell peppers roasted and cut into strips
  • ½ cup parsley chopped
  • 6 Pickled “Guero” banana peppers or yellow pepperoncini peppers. (see below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • 24 hours before preparation, rinse the salted cod in cold water. Place it in a bowl, submerge completely with cold water, and place it in the refrigerator.
  • Every 5-6 hours drain, rinse and cover with water again. You would need to repeat this process 3 – 4 times. The next day after removing water the last time, pinch with your fingers a little piece of cod and taste it. It shouldn’t taste extremely salty just a little, this means it is ready to cook.
  • Some places sell salted cod fillets clean of fishbones however before cooking it, is very important you shred the uncooked fish and look for any thorn left on the meat. Your dinner guests will thank you for this extra step and you will avoid any unpleasant situations while you are eating.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole at medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown around the edges. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute, avoid burning the garlic.
  • In a blender or food processor puree the roasted bell peppers, and tomatoes with 1/2 cup of water, add them carefully to the pot. Don’t add too much water since tomatoes and other ingredients will release water however, if your stew feels too dry you can always add a little bit of water in the process.
  • Add the shredded fish, oregano, and the pickled peppers. Let it simmer at medium heat for at least 30 minutes before adding the potatoes, the parsley, the olives, and the almonds.
  • Reduce heat to low, give all ingredients a good stir to avoid something sticks to the bottom of the pot, cover the casserole and simmer until your mixture looks moist and juicy more a stew consistency with just a bit of broth, not a soup.
  • Rectify seasoning with salt pepper, this should be one of your last steps because the cod was previously salted it can hold a bit of the salt even after the rinsing so it is better to salt to your taste at the very end.
  • Serve with additional pickled pepperoncini and olives.

Notes:

  • The best of this dish is eating it the day after, warm it in a pan with a little bit of oil this will give it an extra crispy texture. It tastes better, scientifically proven!
  • Sometimes Salted Cod would not be available due to the season, try our variation with Tuna.

Author: F. Guerra

Foodie, amateur cook/baker & a spicy food lover with a sweet tooth.