What is Bacalao Pil-Pil? This emblematic Basque dish…
For a coastal city, Bilbao eats an awful lot of Bacalao or saltcod. There are rumours as to the reason behind this of course, as is always the case with a Bilbao legend, but here isn’t the place to let you know them.
Bacalao, in its ‘raw’ state is a smelly, somewhat oily hunk of grey-white fish, covered as you can imagine, in salt. Not the most appetising I can assure you. There are several shops in Bilbao itself dedicated to its sale, with many more across the villages, towns and provinces of Euskalherria, the Basque Country. Its extremely popular and its elevated status in the culinary pantheon of Basque goodies, which is pretty well regarded throughout the world, is down to this one, uniquely Basque dish.
Bacalao al pil-pil
As with many tasty dishes, the ingredients are not complex, bacalao, olive oil, garlic… yes thats it. So the fascination here is with the preparation. I am not sure if you know how seriously the Basques take their food, but believe me, I cant think of many cultures or folk who can compare. As a serious people Basques can sometimes become obsessed with certain things and cooking is certainly one. So much so that it is the national sport (not really of course but it does seem like it at times!)
I am not going to give you a recipe here, or indeed describe the silky, smooth sauce that results from the gentle, sensuous ‘shaking’ that is necessary to create this iconic and mysterious meal. Instead I have a several videos you can watch to see one of the fascinating techniques used to create this wonderfully tasty, fishy, garlicky and oily dish. You will have to imagine how its made and why these competitors, seen here in 2016 Bilbao fiestas’ Bacalao cooking competition, ‘move’ their dishes so. The Bacalao day is one of 8 days of competition…. 🙂
Roll the camera!! Which is your favourite??