Flavored with mild Nora Chiles, salsa vizcaina is the best-known sauce in Basque cooking. It is frequently served with bacalao, or salt cod. However, it is equally delicious with baked fresh cod.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 60 min

Total time: 70 min

Basque Cod with Salsa Vizcaina
Copyright Recipe © 2015 Woodland Foods


Makes 4 servings


  1. Place heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles a few at a time, until slightly pliable, about 30 seconds per side. Remove stems and seeds. Place chiles in bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for about 20 minutes. Remove chiles from water, reserving water, and scrape pulp away from skin with spoon, discarding skin.

  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium heat, then add ham or prosciutto. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon salt, stir and reduce heat to low. Cover pot and continue cooking until onions are fully softened and lightly golden. Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring, until onions are uniformly golden brown.

  4. Add reserved pepper pulp and paprika. Continue cooking, stirring, for 5 minutes.

  5. Increase heat to medium-high, and add tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes’ flavor turns sweet and mellow, about 10 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

  6. Transfer to food processor or blender, and purée until smooth. Use reserved chile soaking liquid to thin sauce texture, if desired.

  7. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  8. Place cod fillets in baking dish and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, transfer to oven and bake until fish flakes easily with fork, about 25 to 30 minutes. During last 10 minutes of cooking, spoon sauce over fish.

  9. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh parsley.