Classic tapas recipe: cod pil-pil

Cod pil-pil tapas served in a black pan with a bottle of Mahou beer
A simple classic: Nacho Del Campo's cod pil-pil Credit: Steve Ryan

Camino head chef Nacho Del Campo proposes a Spanish classic, pan-fried loin of cod, as a perfect partner to a cold glass of Mahou.

This summer, the Telegraph is working in partnership with top Spanish beer brand Mahou, to bring the excitement of fine beer and tapas combinations to kitchens across the land.

Michelin-starred chef Mark Sargeant has been appointed the compere and he has tasked four UK tapas talents to come up with a series of “perfect pairings”. In the last of three challenges, the chefs prepare classic dishes they consider to be ideally suited to the versatile, five-star taste of Mahou Cinco Estrellas.

Nacho Del Campo is head chef of the four Camino bars and restaurants in London. Nacho prides himself on flavoursome, authentic recipes using the finest natural Spanish ingredients.

The cod-father: Nacho cooking one of his favourite dishes

“My cod pil-pil is a lovely flaky piece of fish with a gentle hit of chili and garlic and a creamy, emulsified sauce which marries all these ingredients together” says Del Campo. “It’s a personal favourite of mine with a cool glass of Mahou.”

And why not? No Brit would question the pairing of fish and chips with a pint of lager and cod pil-pil and Mahou makes for an elevated expression of the same classic concept.

Sargeant certainly thinks so. “I am a huge fan of simple ingredients, masterfully prepared and Nacho has nailed this dish. Great quality fish and fine pilsen-style lager – it’s a winning combination.”

Cod pil-pil


Serves two

  • 50g Maldon salt
  • 20g sugar
  • 500g even-sized fresh cod loin
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil

To serve

  • 1 field garlic bulb, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices of red chilli
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley 


  1. Mix together the salt and sugar. Clean and remove the scales from the cod, leaving the skin on. Place the fish in a tray and pour over the salt mixture, ensuring both sides of the cod are coated. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to cure for one day.
  2. When cured, rinse the cod with cold water and pat dry using a clean cloth. In a pan gently fry the garlic and chilli in a little oil until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. When the garlic begins to turn, add the cod skin-side down, reduce to a very low heat and cook for two minutes. Using a heat-proof spatula, carefully turn the cod over and let it cook for a further three minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the cod rest on the oil for another minute.  Remove the cod from the oil (reserving for later) and place on kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
  4. In the oil in the pan you should be able to see some water. Transfer most of the oil to a jar, leaving just a little with the liquid left over from the cod. With a small strainer whisk the liquid until it starts to emulsify. Slowly drizzle in a little of the removed oil whilst continuing to whisk the liquid until you achieve a thick, glossy emulsification (note: the mixture will not emulsify if the oil is too hot or too cold).
  5. To serve, place the cod in a serving dish before gently pouring over your emulsification. Simply top with your fried garlic and chilli and some finely-chopped parsley.

To make the dish for yourself, get your ingredients at #perfectpairing #mahou