Fry the garlic until golden in the olive oil, along with the chili and the pimentos (about a quarter of a litre of oil will probably be about right). When the garlic is golden remove from the heat and take-out all solid matter. Put the Garlic and chilies to one side, you have finished with the pimentos so sprinkle them with a little sea salt and eat as a snack while you wait for the oil to cool down.
When the oil is cool enough for you to dip your finger in without pain place the desalted bacalao (cod) with its skin face upwards. Be sure that it does not start to fry.
This is where the funs starts (a.k.a the hard bit). The objective is to keep the oil hot, but not frying, so you need to put a napkin, or cloth on your work top, next to the cooker. Make sure that the heat on the cooker is low. Place the pan on the napkin, and taking it with one hand at twelve o'clock and the other at six, move it around in a circular motion, as if tracing the edge of a circle, not spinning it!!
see the Plateruena method in video please click here (9mbs)
This should result in a wave of olive oil running round the pan, and lapping over the top of the bacalao. You can also push the pan forwards and backwards, and change rotation from clockwise to anti clock wise.
The aim being to get the oil slopping over the bacalao, don't wear your best clothes and do wear an apron, as you are quite likely to get a bit aggressive with the pan during the three quarters of an hour or so that it takes to get the end result.
Alternate with putting the pan on the heat and rotating it, and then back on to the cloth. The moment it starts bubbling, take it off the heat urgently, otherwise it will spoil. It is a fine line, too cold is ineffective and too hot a disaster.
As time passes you will notice that globs of 'stuff' are appearing in the oil, this is the gelatine from the fish, most is in the skin which is why you are trying to bath the skin in the oil.
The movement will allow the gelatine and the oil to emulsify, it takes ages and if you have too much oil to bacalao it takes even longer.
Don't give up, sooner or later you will notice that the 'globs' are starting to turn into a homogenized sauce, at this point return the garlic to the pan. You do not need the garlic to make the pil pil sauce, but it seems a shame to leave it sitting there. Save eight pieces for a garnish when served.
You can leave the bacalao to rest (off the heat) for 10 mins or more, and it does quite a bit of the work by itself.
To see the continuing method for authentic basque bacalao al pil pil from Plateruena please click here (6mbs)
Keep rotating on and off the heat until such time as you have what some people describe as a light mayonnaise consistency sauce, most if not all of the garlic, (if having been thinly enough sliced and goldened properly), should have dissolved, this is part of the magic of the dish. Taste the sauce, if you have soaked the bacalao for a little too long it may require you to add a little sea salt, the dish is intended to be salty 'not stupidly so' but too little salt makes for a pretty tasteless serving.
If you have problems getting the pil pil sauce to thicken, give it a little more heat, you may be being just a bit too cautious.
If the sauce starts to turn into meringue texture, you've basically over cooked the bacalao al pil pil..
It is a crime to serve bacalao al pil pil anything other than piping hot, so at the end of the process put it on the heat and keep agitating it until hot all the way through.
To see the end of the method for the perfect Plateruena bacalao al pil pil please click here for the video (2.24mbs)
Serve with a couple of slices of golden garlic delicately placed on the top of the bacalao.
Have a bottle of Tabasco sauce available, and plenty of crusty bread.
Don't swamp each plate of bacalao al pil pil with the sauce, people will ask for more if they like it. That's the receta.
courtesy of the durango platemakers.