Tiznao Manchego

Salt Cod with Spring Onions

This is arguably the most singular dish of La Mancha, and it is quite different from other cod preparations in Spanish cooking. It is a little labor-intensive, too, but it is well worth the time. Here, the salt cod, in contrast to most recipes, is not desalted before it is used, but is instead held under running water to wash the salt from the surface. Miraculously, the dish is not salty. The cod simply yields its salt to the rest of the ingredients, lending the dish the perfect amount of seasoning.

Tiznao means 'dirty with ashes and slightly burnt" in Spanish, so it is important that the vegetables in this recipe are grilled until the are slightly charred over a charcoal fire. Local cooks always make this dish a day in advance of serving to allow time for the flavors to settle.

  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 dried choricero or ancho chiles, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 spring onions or 12 scallions, white part only
  • 1 pound salt cod, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Boiling water as needed
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and finely chopped

Preparation

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Arrange a fine-mesh screen on the grill rack.

Place the chiles directly over the fire and grill, over the grill and grill, turning frequently, until slightly blackened. At the same time, grill the garlic and spring onions directly over the fire until nicely browned and a little blackened. The timing depends on the intensity of the fire, but plan on about 10 minutes. Remove from the grill.

Briefly rinse the salt cod under cold running water and pat dry. Place on the grill rack directly over the fire and grill, turning the pieces several times, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly blackened. Remove from the grill.

Peel the garlic, and finely chop the garlic, chiles, and onions. Remove the skin and any errant bones from the cod and shred into small pieces.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the cod, chopped vegetables, and red pepper flakes. Add the olive oil and mix well. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon several times. Add boiling water to cover by 1 inch and let stand for another 4 hours. Most of the water will be absorbed during this time.

Add 1 more cup of boiling water, stir well, and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, bring to room temperature, garnish with the chopped egg, and serve.

See also

Bacalao al Pil-Pil is a classic Basque fare. After you prepare the garnish and simmer the cod for several minutes, you make the sauce by engaging the cod in a 'dance' with the olive oil to create an emulsion that looks very much like a mayonnaise. The dance is not without challenge, but even the patient novice cook can produce an excellent result.

Salt Cod Fritters with Allioli: Bacalao - salt cod - is one of the great Spanish delights, adding flavor to bland ingredients such as potatoes. If you are unfamiliar with it, then this is a delightful way to try it out. Bitesize fish cakes, dipped into rich, creamy, garlicky allioli, are irresistible as a tapas dish or appetizer. 

Castilla-La Mancha recipes: Located almost in the centre of mainland Spain, Castilla la Mancha and its cuisine is a very appreciated discovery for the traveller. The cuisine of this region is comprised of a great variety of traditional, hearty yet simple dishes which are prepared using elementary ingredients such as bread, meat, vegetables and accompanied by a wide range of wine, sheep's cheese and desserts, transporting the diner back to the era of Don Quixote and his faithful Sancho.

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