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Bacalas A La Viscaina Recipe

Bacalao a la Vizcaína, or Bacalas a la Viscaina as it is sometimes called, is a traditional Basque dish made with salt cod and a rich tomato sauce, typically served with fried green peppers on top. This exquisite dish is not only delicious but also bears historical significance.

The history of Bacalao a la Vizcaína can be traced back to the coastal regions of Spain, particularly the Basque Country. The Basque people have a long-standing tradition of fishing and preserving cod, as it was one of the few fish that could be easily preserved and transported. They would salt and dry the codfish for long journeys at sea.

During the 16th century, Basque fishermen began to venture far beyond their own waters, especially to Newfoundland in Canada. There they discovered an abundance of codfish, which they eagerly brought back to Spain. The salt cod became a staple in Basque cuisine, and various dishes were developed to highlight its unique flavors.

Now, let's dive into the recipe for Bacalas a la Viscaina:

Ingredients:
- 1/2 salt codfish
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large onions, cut into bits
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into pieces
- Black pepper to taste
- Whole green peppers for garnish
- Salt, if needed (depends on the saltiness of the codfish)

Instructions:

1. Soak the half salt codfish overnight to remove excess salt. Change the water a few times to ensure the saltiness is reduced.

2. Once soaked, drain the codfish and cut it into pieces, removing any bones.

3. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become brown and caramelized.

4. Add the tomatoes to the pan and stew slowly for about 15 minutes, allowing them to break down and release their flavors. Season with black pepper according to your taste.

5. Add the codfish pieces to the pan, making sure they are well-coated with the tomato and onion mixture. Cook the fish slowly for approximately 30 minutes, allowing it to absorb the flavors of the sauce. If needed, add a pinch of salt to enhance the taste. Be careful not to overcook the fish, as it can become dry.

6. While the fish is cooking, prepare the fried whole green peppers. Heat a separate pan with a little olive oil and fry the peppers until they become slightly charred and tender.

7. Once the Bacalas a la Viscaina is done, transfer it to a platter and top it with the fried whole green peppers.

8. Serve immediately, accompanied by crusty bread and a fresh salad, if desired.

Fun fact: The Basque people have a unique tradition called "Bacalaoau Pil Pil," where the fish is cooked in olive oil, garlic, and chili pepper. As the oil heats, it emulsifies with the fish's gelatin, creating a silky smooth sauce.

Similar recipe dishes include Bacalao a la Portuguesa, a Portuguese dish that also features salt cod cooked with onions, tomatoes, and other flavorful ingredients. Bacalao a la Vizcaina has also influenced dishes such as Bacalao a la Bras, a popular Brazilian dish made with salt cod, eggs, onions, and potatoes.

Enjoy the rich flavors and historical significance of this traditional Basque recipe, Bacalas a la Viscaina!

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