Cod Fillets with Chilli, Garlic and Capers

Filetti di Merluzzo all’ Istriana

This recipe from Friuli Venezia Giulia uses very unusual ingredients for the area. It is not usual to find ingredients that are so typical of the south so far north and so close to the Austrian and Yugoslavian borders. But the main thing about it is that it tastes so good!


  • 1 lb (500 g) cod fillets, trimmed, washed and patted dry
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained, washed and dried
  • 2 sardines canned in oil
  • 1 small potato, peeled and grated
  • 4 tablespoons fish stock
  • ½ dried red chilli pepper, rubbed lightly between your palms to release the oils (remember to wash your hands afterwards)
  • juice of 1 lemon, strained


Place the cod in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with the onion, garlic, parsley and oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook gently over a low heat for about 12 minutes. Remove from the saucepan with a fish slice and arrange on a warmed platter; keep warm.

Chop the capers very finely, add them to the oil remaining in the saucepan and stir. Trim and chop the sardines and add them to the capers. Stir in the potato, stock and chilli. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the potato is cooked. Lay the cod carefully in this sauce and heat through for about 3 minutes. Remove the chilli, put the cod back on the platter and sprinkle with the lemon juice before serving.