When it comes to traditional Spanish cuisine, one dish that stands out is the mouthwatering “receta ajoarriero.” This delectable recipe hails from the Navarre region in northern Spain and has been enjoyed by locals for generations. In this article, we will explore the origins of ajoarriero, its ingredients, the cooking process, and why it has become a beloved dish in Spanish gastronomy.

The Origins of Ajoarriero

Ajoarriero, which translates to “garlic carrier” in English, is a dish that dates back to the 16th century. It was originally created by shepherds and travelers who needed a hearty and nutritious meal during their long journeys. The dish was made using simple ingredients that were readily available, such as salted cod, garlic, olive oil, and peppers.

Over time, ajoarriero became popular among the local population and eventually spread to other regions of Spain. Today, it is considered a staple in Navarre cuisine and is often enjoyed during festivals and family gatherings.

The Ingredients

To prepare ajoarriero, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 grams of salted cod
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 onions
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 150 milliliters of olive oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of paprika
  • A handful of parsley

These ingredients can be easily found in most grocery stores, making ajoarriero a convenient dish to prepare.

The Cooking Process

Now that we have the ingredients ready, let’s dive into the cooking process of ajoarriero:

  1. Start by desalting the cod. Rinse it under cold water to remove excess salt, then soak it in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 6 hours.
  2. Once the cod is desalted, drain the water and remove any bones or skin. Shred the cod into small pieces and set it aside.
  3. Chop the garlic, onions, and peppers into small cubes. Dice the tomatoes as well.
  4. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, and sauté until they become translucent.
  5. Add the peppers and tomatoes to the pan, and cook for about 10 minutes until they soften.
  6. Next, add the shredded cod to the pan and mix well with the other ingredients. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and paprika over the mixture, and stir to combine.
  8. Finally, garnish the dish with freshly chopped parsley.

Your ajoarriero is now ready to be served! It pairs perfectly with crusty bread or roasted potatoes.

Why Ajoarriero is Beloved in Spanish Gastronomy

Ajoarriero has become a beloved dish in Spanish gastronomy for several reasons:

  • Rich in flavors: The combination of salted cod, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes creates a harmonious blend of flavors that is both savory and satisfying.
  • Simple and affordable: Ajoarriero is made using basic ingredients that are affordable and easily accessible. It is a dish that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
  • Traditional and cultural significance: Ajoarriero represents the rich culinary heritage of the Navarre region and is deeply rooted in its cultural traditions. It is a dish that brings people together and evokes a sense of nostalgia.
  • Versatility: While the traditional recipe calls for salted cod, ajoarriero can also be prepared with other types of fish or even vegetables for a vegetarian twist. This versatility allows individuals to adapt the dish to their dietary preferences.


1. Can I use fresh cod instead of salted cod?

Yes, you can use fresh cod if you prefer. However, using salted cod adds a unique flavor to the dish that is characteristic of traditional ajoarriero.

2. Can I freeze ajoarriero?

Ajoarriero can be frozen, but it is best enjoyed fresh. Freezing may alter the texture of the cod and other ingredients.

3. Are there any variations of ajoarriero?

Yes, there are variations of ajoarriero across different regions of Spain. Some recipes include additional ingredients such as potatoes, eggs, or even chorizo.

4. Can I make ajoarriero spicy?

Ajoarriero is traditionally not a spicy dish. However, if you enjoy spicy flavors, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili flakes to the recipe.

5. Is ajoarriero a healthy dish?

Ajoarriero is a nutritious dish that is rich in protein, vitamins, and healthy fats from the olive oil. However, it is important to consume it in moderation due to its salt content.


Ajoarriero is a delicious and traditional Spanish dish that has stood the test of time. Its humble origins as a meal for shepherds and travelers have transformed it into a beloved recipe in Spanish gastronomy. With its rich flavors, simplicity, and cultural significance, ajoarriero continues to be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. So why not try your hand at preparing this delightful dish and experience a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine?


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