Currently celebrating the 10 year anniversary of his eponymous tapas bar on Bermondsey Street, chef José Pizarro has since opened two more London restaurants and a pub in Surrey. The chef will also publish a new cookbook next year, following his other books such as ‘Basque’ – a concise version of which is now available. Throughout the book, a collection of Spanish recipes are included, specifically focussing on Basque cuisine from the area spanning the border between France and Northern Spain. Recipes include the likes of José Pizarro’s tortilla de bacalao, which offers a Basque take on the Spanish national dish of tortilla de patatas, embellished with bacalao (salt cod) popular in the Basque region.
On his tortilla de bacalao recipe, José Pizarro says: “Another tortilla de bacalao? Well yes, I couldn’t write a book on the food of the Basque Country and not include this recipe. It’s a must-have dish when you are in a sidrería (cider house). My interpretation is to caramelise the onions to bring more sweetness to the tortilla and the bacalao is not cooked.
“When you caramelise the onions, make plenty as you can keep them in the fridge for at least a week – they make a great addition to any sandwich, or just on toast with some goat’s cheese. Heaven.”
Moreover, José Pizarro will open two new restaurants at the Royal Academy of Arts this summer. Set within what he describes as “London’s most precious and prestigious art space”, the new restaurants will combine the chef’s two biggest loves: food and art. On the ground floor, the Poster Bar by José will offer an informal, all-day menu of tapas and drinks, while upstairs José Pizarro at the RA will be a seated restaurant, with an all-day menu centred around high-quality produce and the best of Spanish cooking.
At José Pizarro at the RA, the menu will include the likes of Jamón Ibérico and Presa Ibérica; strawberry gazpacho; leeks with José’s famous romesco sauce; Mediterranean red prawns cooked with chilli and garlic; hake in salsa verde; and black ink croquetas. Poster Bar by José will offer a more casual, café-style menu, including a truffle sandwich, tortilla de patatas, cheese, and charcuterie boards. All drinks will also be proudly Spanish.
Recipe extracted from Basque by José Pizarro, Hardie Grant, 2021.
- Large (23 cm/9 in) non-stick pan
- 400 g salt cod (14 oz)
- 125 ml olive oil (4 fl oz)
- 3 large white onions finely sliced
- A handful of thyme leaves stripped
- 6 free-range eggs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- Soak the cod in cold water, skin side up, for 24 hours, changing the water a couple of times.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions for a few minutes. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 25 minutes until really soft. Remove the lid, add the thyme and cook for a further 20–25 minutes until really caramelised and sticky. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, keeping some of the oil, and cool.
- Remove the skin from the cod and flake into large pieces.
- Beat the eggs with plenty of black pepper and gently fold in the onion, cod and parsley.
- In a large (23 cm/9 in) non-stick pan, heat 2–3 tablespoons of the reserved oil and pour in the egg mixture. Swirl the pan over a high heat until the mixture starts to set around the edges, then reduce the heat and cook for 4–5 minutes until it just starts to set, so that the bottom and sides are golden but it is still quite loose in the middle.
- Cover the pan with a flat lid or board, turn the tortilla carefully onto it, then put the pan back on a low heat. Return the tortilla to the pan, cooked side up, and use a spatula to tuck the edges of the tortilla under to give its characteristic curved look. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn onto a board and serve. It should still be lovely and juicy when you cut into it.
Further information on José Pizarro restaurants can be found here.