When it comes to traditional Spanish cuisine, one dish that stands out is the mouthwatering “receta de ajoarriero.” This delectable recipe has been passed down through generations and continues to be a favorite among locals and tourists alike. In this article, we will explore the origins of ajoarriero, its ingredients, the cooking process, and its cultural significance. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets behind this delightful Spanish dish.

The Origins of Ajoarriero

Ajoarriero, also known as “ajoarriero navarro,” originates from the Navarre region in northern Spain. This region is renowned for its rich culinary heritage, and ajoarriero is one of its most iconic dishes. The name “ajoarriero” is derived from two Spanish words: “ajo” meaning garlic and “arriero” meaning muleteer or carrier. This name reflects the humble origins of the dish, as it was traditionally prepared by muleteers during their long journeys.

The Ingredients

Ajoarriero is a simple yet flavorful dish that combines a handful of ingredients to create a harmonious blend of flavors. The key ingredients include:

  • Salt cod: This is the star ingredient of ajoarriero. The cod is salted and dried, giving it a unique texture and flavor.
  • Garlic: As the name suggests, garlic plays a crucial role in this recipe. It adds a pungent and aromatic taste to the dish.
  • Tomatoes: Ripe and juicy tomatoes are used to create a rich and tangy base for the ajoarriero.
  • Peppers: Both red and green peppers are used to add a touch of sweetness and a hint of spiciness to the dish.
  • Olive oil: Spanish cuisine is incomplete without the use of olive oil. It not only enhances the flavors but also adds a silky texture to the ajoarriero.
  • Bread: Stale bread is used to thicken the sauce and give the dish a hearty consistency.
  • Eggs: Some variations of ajoarriero include eggs, which are poached in the sauce to add richness and depth of flavor.

The Cooking Process

Now that we know the ingredients, let’s explore the step-by-step process of preparing ajoarriero:

  1. Start by desalting the salt cod. Soak it in water for at least 24 hours, changing the water every few hours to remove excess salt.
  2. Once the cod is desalted, remove the skin and bones, and shred it into small pieces.
  3. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown.
  4. Add the peppers and tomatoes to the pan and cook until they soften and release their juices.
  5. Break the stale bread into small pieces and add it to the pan. Stir well to combine and let it cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add the shredded cod to the pan and mix everything together. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  7. If you prefer to include eggs, create small wells in the sauce and crack the eggs into them. Cover the pan and let the eggs poach in the sauce until they reach your desired level of doneness.
  8. Once the dish is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

The Cultural Significance

Ajoarriero holds a special place in Spanish culture and is often associated with traditional festivities and celebrations. It is a dish that brings people together, evoking a sense of nostalgia and community. In the Navarre region, ajoarriero is particularly popular during the San Fermín festival, where locals and visitors gather to enjoy this flavorful delicacy.

Furthermore, ajoarriero showcases the resourcefulness of Spanish cuisine. It was originally created as a way to make use of readily available ingredients, such as salt cod and stale bread, and transform them into a delicious and satisfying meal. This resourcefulness is deeply ingrained in Spanish culinary traditions and continues to inspire chefs and home cooks alike.


Ajoarriero is a traditional Spanish dish that has stood the test of time. Its origins in the Navarre region, flavorful ingredients, and simple cooking process make it a beloved recipe among food enthusiasts. Whether you’re enjoying it during a festive celebration or preparing it at home, ajoarriero is sure to delight your taste buds and transport you to the vibrant culinary landscape of Spain.


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

While salt cod is the traditional choice for ajoarriero, you can certainly use fresh cod if you prefer. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the dish may differ slightly.

2. Can I add other vegetables to the ajoarriero?

Ajoarriero is a versatile dish, and you can experiment with different vegetables to suit your taste. Some popular additions include onions, leeks, and zucchini.

3. Is ajoarriero a spicy dish?

The level of spiciness in ajoarriero can vary depending on the type and quantity of peppers used. If you prefer a milder version, you can reduce or omit the peppers altogether.

4. Can I make a vegetarian version of ajoarriero?

Absolutely! You can substitute the salt cod with tofu or tempeh to create a delicious vegetarian version of ajoarriero. The rest of the ingredients and cooking process remain the same.

Ajoarriero is often enjoyed with crusty bread, which is perfect for soaking up the flavorful sauce. Additionally, a fresh green salad or roasted vegetables can complement the dish beautifully.


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