Legendary Dishes | Ajoarriero (cod fish, tomato and pepper stew)

Piquillo Peppers
SPAIN

Traditionally associated with mule drovers on the trade route between Bilbao in the Basque Country, Pamplona in Navarre and Zaragoza in Aragón, this was a simple dish that evolved with local ingredients – salt-dried cod, crab, garlic, green and red peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Nowadays ajoarriero is a rich sauce made with variations of indigenous chilli, the choricero, lamuyo, palermo and piquillo peppers, and garlic and tomatoes. Ironically the traditional salt-cod is losing favour to air-dried cod from Norway, because it is less expensive and salt-free. The original ajoarriero was suffused with pungent local garlic that gave the dish its name but the plentiful green and red peppers were of equal importance. Cooked in a clay pot over an oven fire, ajoarriero was a communal affair, the amount of garlic depended on the number of diners. Each plate contained a scrambled mess of cod, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and beaten egg. Crab was a favourite ingredient in some areas. In other areas potatoes were added. Nothing remotely like a sauce. The introduction of lobster and shrimp to replace crab was a 20th century invention. Ajoarriero remains a dish of the Basque Country and Navarre, where it is continually being reinterpreted by local chefs.

  • 1 kg dried / salt cod, soaked 24 hours with three water changes
  • 750 g tomatoes, chopped
  • 350 g piquillo peppers
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 6 choricero peppers, soaked, roasted, peeled, chopped
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 125 g onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 g sugar
  • Parsley, large pinch

Remove skin from cod, chop into small pieces. In a saucepan sauté four cloves of garlic and piquillo peppers in oil over a low heat for ten minutes. In a deep frying pan, sauté remaining garlic, onion and green peppers, add tomatoes, cook for 15 minutes, add cod skin pieces, cook for ten minutes over a medium heat. Stir cod and choricero peppers into the tomato mixture, season with parsley, salt (if using air-dried cod) and pepper.  Simmer for a further ten minutes over a very low heat.


INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS =  Choricero Peppers | Piquillo Peppers | Salt-Dried Cod

LEGENDARY DISHES


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