Salt Cod Vizcaya Style (Bacalao a la Vizcaina)

  • Serves

    serves 6-8


Salt cod appears on Christmas Eve tables throughout Mexico. In the nation's capital, the most popular preparation is this version of a classic salt cod dish from the Spanish province of Vizcaya. The Mexican interpretation adds almonds and olives and omits the Spanish original's cured ham, dried sweet red peppers, and dried red chiles.


  • 2 lb. salt cod, cut into large pieces
  • 1⁄2 cups olive oil
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored and minced
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1⁄4 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1⁄4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
  • 1⁄4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1⁄2 cups blanched almonds
  • 1 cup large pitted green Spanish or Italian olives
  • 3 tbsp. small pickled green chiles plus 3 tbsp. of the pickling juice


Step 1

Soak cod in a large bowl of cold water for 6–8 hours, changing water several times. Drain. Cover cod with cold water again, then break apart into flakes while picking through cod to remove any skin and bones. Drain again.

Step 2

Put cod into a medium pot, cover with cold water, and boil over high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 3

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes and onions and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add cod, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, breaking fish up further with a wooden spoon, until mixture begins to fry, 7–10 minutes. Add cloves, peppercorns, marjoram, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes. Add almonds and olives and cook until heated through, 1–2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in chiles and pickling juice. Set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.

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