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Soldaditos de Pavía or codfish beignets

>> Saturday, April 2, 2011

Soldaditos Pavía 1

I have wonderful news to share: I will be a contributor to the new online food magazine Honest Cooking! I am soooo excited! And I am in great company there, with colleagues like Nancy from Spicie Foodie, Simone from Junglefrog Cooking, Joan from Foodalogue, Asha from Fork Spoon Knife or Maria Laitinen from Scandi Foodie among many outstanding bloggers. You can check my published articles anytime by clicking on the cute Honest Cooking logo on my sidebar. For my debut at Honest Cooking I have chosen a very typical dish of my hometown, Madrid, the capital city of Spain. I have lived there most of my life and though in fact I live outside Madrid since 2000, in a small town 40km to the Northwest, I am still in the same province... it feels almost the same. Choosing a dish that is representative of Madrid is not an easy task. Madrid builds upon thousands of immigrants coming from all over Spain through time, so there are not many dishes that are actually exclusively from Madrid. Just take into account that Madrid had around 1 million inhabitants in 1940, after the Spanish Civil War, and it already had 3.1 millions 30 years later, in 1970. More than triple! Everything is mixed.

Tercios flagSoldaditos de Pavía, meaning Pavía soldiers, are strips of desalted codfish, marinated in a mixture of lemon juice and Spanish sweet pimentón, then either coated first in flour then in egg, or in a frying batter, deep-fried in olive oil and served with a strip of roasted red pepper around them. About the origin of this funny name there are two theories: the first relates to the color of the soldier uniforms at the time of the battle of Pavia, in 1525. The second relates to the color of the Spanish hussar uniforms during the 19th Century.
(Flag image by courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)


But all this lore is not as important as the recipe for this simple, tasty and healthy appetizer or tapa, found in a lot of bars and tabernas in the old quarters of Madrid. So here it comes:

Soldaditos Pavía 2

Soldaditos de Pavía
Yields 4 tapa-sized servings

  • 1.1 pound (500g) good quality salted codfish
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp sweet pimentón (or more if you like)
  • A dash of white pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • First option - simple beignet coating:
    • 1 beaten egg
    • AP flour or chickpea flour
  • Second option - somewhat-time-consuming beignet frying batter:
    • 2/3 cup (100g) flour
    • 1/4 cup eau-de-vie or similar spirit
    • 3/4 tsp (5g) baker's yeast
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 pinch of saffron
    • 1 pinch salt
  • Virgin olive oil for deep-frying (essential for real soldaditos)
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, in strips
Soldaditos Pavía 4
  1. Cut the codfish in strips, put them in a large bowl with cold water and leave them to desalt 24 hours. Better if you can change the water at least 3 times during this period. Believe me, you’d rather have to add some salt to the final fried fish than getting a bunch of unbearably salty and inedible soldaditos.
  2. Prepare the marinade in a shallow dish or container, mix the lemon juice with the pimentón.
  3. Pat dry the fish strips with a paper towel and dip them in the marinade. Toss them to coat. Then drizzle the olive oil on the fish. Marinade for 3 hours.
  4. Rinse the fish strips. You won't normally need to salt the strips, as the fish will still retain some saltiness.
  5. Now you can use one of two methods for making the beignets:
    The most simple is to coat the strips first in plain flour (I use chickpea flour like in many places of Andalusia), then bathe them in beaten egg and put the strips straight into the hot olive oil.
  6. The second method, a bit more elaborate, is to prepare a batter for coating the fish. Sift the flour and mix it with the tablespoon of oil, the saffron, the spirit, the salt and the yeast. Leave to rest in a warm place for the yeast to act. When the mixture has risen slightly and it's bubbly on the surface, dip the fish strips and fry them on medium-hot olive oil. Place the fried fish on a paper towel.
Soldaditos Pavía 3

Serve while still warm with a strip of roasted red pepper across them. I have used piquillo peppers here instead, as they are pretty good with anything. Enjoy the juicy, lemony, flaky goodness of the fish inside the soft crust. The perfect appetizer for a warm Spring noon with a glass of beer or Fino. Better sitting on a patio.

23 comentarios:

Valerie Harrison (bellini) April 2, 2011 at 2:55 PM  

Congratulations Miriam. Your first choice of recipe is an outstanding one.

Mari Nuñez April 2, 2011 at 3:05 PM  


I love the way these soldaditos look. The chickpea flour must give it a unique taste.

Have a great weekend :)

J e l e n a April 2, 2011 at 3:14 PM  

Congratulations. A fellow blogger from Croatia is also contributing to Honest cooking, Tamara
and I looked through their site. Very promising!
Beautiful batter. Cooked to perfection.

Frank April 2, 2011 at 3:36 PM  

This looks fabulous! I love filettt di baccalà and these, with their spicy marinade, look even better.

Asha @ FSK April 2, 2011 at 3:53 PM  

YAY!! I am writing for Honest Cooking too :))) good to see you are too..

love the photo from the archway! beautiful

Belinda @zomppa April 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM  

Congrats! It's great to see more food magazines online. =)

This recipe is salted cod - and fried - who can say no??

tasteofbeirut April 3, 2011 at 7:33 AM  

Congrats! I love this new post and the photos.

Janet April 3, 2011 at 1:31 PM  

I thought sodaditos de Pavia was a Sevilla tapa. Your pictures are wonderful!

Cristina April 3, 2011 at 11:09 PM  

Happy Sunday Miriam and congratulations on your involvement with "Honest Cooking" as a contributor. =)

Hubby and I have been eating a lot of fish lately and this would be a welcome dish in our home. I would luv to sit right in front of the dish you've laid out with the wine and enjoy that beautiful meal.

I need to find a source for chickpea flour...I'm sure it's much healthier than AP.

Maria April 4, 2011 at 12:28 AM  

Congrats! Good to have you on board ;-)

Aldy April 4, 2011 at 6:19 AM  

Congrats Miriam!!! BRAVO, BRAVO :)
Todo el exito en este nuevo emprendimiento, bueno no podia ser de otra manera. Ya que todo lo que compartes en tu blog es de total belleza.
Por otro lado me ha encantado esta receta de los soldaditos y la preciosa introduccion con una descripcion maravillosa!

Te mando abrazotes desde El Pacifico :)


Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets April 4, 2011 at 7:58 AM  

This looks fantastic! I haven't had fish sticks for years.

Jun April 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM  

Yes, they look fantastic!

Peggy April 4, 2011 at 2:54 PM  

I love these! They sound absolutely delicious! And congrats on being a contributor for Honest Cooking!

lisaiscooking April 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM  

Congratulations on contributing to Honest Cooking! Looking forward to checking it out. Your codfish beignets look amazing. I'd love to sit down with some of these and a glass of Fino!

FOODalogue April 4, 2011 at 3:45 PM  

This looks soooo good, I'm happy to see it twice!

Medifast Success Stories April 4, 2011 at 7:53 PM  

What a great recipe, really look forward to trying, thanks so much for sharing. We actually had these when we were on holidays in Madrid, beautiful country, can't wait to return.

Sabina April 5, 2011 at 9:08 PM  

Enhorabuena por tu Top9!!! Me he llevado una gran alegría, y que sepas que ha sido la primera receta del "Top" que he abierto para leerla en profundidad por el interés que me ha despertado, imagínate mi sorpresa al encontrarme con uno de mis blogs de siempre, de los que tengo en la barra de accesos directos. Felicidades, muy muy merecida esa valoración.

MARARIA April 5, 2011 at 10:14 PM  

Delicious! love your blog and congratulation for your contribution to honest cooking.

Anonymous April 6, 2011 at 1:22 AM  

Congrats on being a contributor! I just discovered your blog (thank you for linking me up), and am really loving it :)

I'm not much of a fish person, but these beignets might just change that. If that's not testament to how much I'm loving your blog, I don't know what is! ;)

Jonny April 8, 2011 at 5:20 PM  

Miriam - love the recipe and, as you can imagine, the history too. Fascinating that this Madrileno recipe harks back to an engagement in Pavia, outside of Milan, in the 16th century, and the Hapsburg domination of the Italian peninsula. Bravissima receta!

Dewi April 9, 2011 at 6:02 AM  

How wonderful! Garbanzo flour sounds so good for this beignets.

Miriam April 26, 2011 at 7:47 PM  

OMG, I had forgotten about all these comments, shame on me!!
Val: thanks!
Mari: gracias!
Jelena: I know Tamara! And thanks!
Frank: ;)
Asha: I'm jumping with excitement!
Belinda: thank you! So nice coming from you, really.
ToB: thank you, Joumana!
Janet: you're right, they're typical in Sevilla too.
Cristina: ;)
Maria: thanks!
Aldy: un gran abrazo transoceánico!
Xiaolu: I do love my fish sticks... ;)
Jun: thanks!
Peggy: thanks!
Lisa: you're a connoisseur! ;)
Joan: ;D
MSS: mmm, then you know the real thing...
Sabina: gracias!
Mararia: thank you so much!
Ovenhaven: thanks!
Jonny: in Europe everything is related... it's a small continent after all ;)
Elra: I love garbanzo flour!


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