Piel de Bacalao (cod skin)

piel de bacalao

Some time ago, while preparing a massive barbecue with Oli in Barcelona, I noticed an interesting crisp packet on the table and asked about the contents. Oli mentioned they were unusual and that I should take them home – he said, “They are really good if you break them up and sprinkle them on a fish soup, or similar.”


So I took the FishSnack’s Sabor Original home and put them in the cupboard.
A couple of weeks later, I decided to eat the FishSnack’s, before they disappeared into a black hole and six months passed their sell by date.

cod skin

I was somewhat surprised by the contents of the bag. Straightaway, I was hit by a smell of bacalaocod cured and dried with salt. The texture was pleasantly light and crispy and the taste was strongly salt and fishy – quite umami.


I had been expecting a fish flavoured potato snack, but when I looked carefully at the ingredients, I discovered, cod skin fried in sunflower oil – nothing more! These won’t be to everyone’s taste, but they are probably the most unusual crispy snack I’ve had to date (other than spicy crickets) and no gluten, no artificial colours or cholesterol. OK, so there’s a fair bit of salt, but crispy snacks have to have something bad exciting going for them. These definitely go well with a drink!


Bacalao, AKA salt cod will literally keep for years, perhaps even decades without spoiling. The technique of curing by air drying cod dates back to the Vikings, who it is said, gave the procedure to the Basques, along with directions to the Grand Banks off North America, where the sea was literally full of cod (one could practically dip a hand in the ocean and pull out a fish). Unlike Norsemen, the Basques had salt and perfected the art of salting, so perhaps there was some trade off. According to Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (by Mark Kurlansky), Basque fishermen were sailing across the Atlantic for 500 years before Columbus discovered America. It is said that the Basques kept their fishing grounds a secret and others who tried to follow them foundered on the way. Regardless, salt cod became an essential cheap staple (along with cured meat and sausage), in the centuries before refrigeration – all long journeys and voyages depended on food that would keep for the duration.

I’ve looked up FishSnack’s online and did come across some negative comments – they do smell strong and the flavour is intense, but I liked them – I will go and buy more the next time I’m in Spain and I definitely prefer them to Marmite!

About Mad Dog

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10 Responses to Piel de Bacalao (cod skin)

  1. Eha says:

    You do pass on some fun and informative lessons, Mad! A complete newbie to me: and you may remember I do not love bacalao and I also never ever have snacks 🙂 ! Do enough ‘food damage’ without !! But this is fascinating and is on my list for further ‘research’ !!! Marmite . . . yes, well, we have Vegemite: no comment . . .

  2. Ron says:

    Mark Kurlansky’s ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World’ and it’s sister book “Salt, a world History” are two of my favorite reads.
    Fish chips out of salted cod sounds so much better than our lutfisk (salt/lye cured cod). We love fried salmon skin so I know we’d dive right into the cod fish snacks. So, is Marmite and Vegemite the same. Tasted both but never side-by-side.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Ron – yes they are great books. I think you’ll love the fried cod skin. Marmite and Vegemite are both made with yeast extract. Apparently Vegemite was created in Australia in 1919, when WW1 interrupted supplies of Marmite from Britain. One taste of Marmite was enough to put me off for life, so I’ve never tasted it’s cousin… Oddly I’m quite partial to Twiglets.

  3. Well, I absolutely LOVE marmite and I think we’d both love these. Have never seen them but I’m off to the “big” supermarket next week in advance of best pal Maria’s visit, so will look out for them 😀

  4. Eva Taylor says:

    Crispy fish skin is all the rage in North America, although I do love crispy chicken skin, I have not been swayed by fish skin…yet.

  5. Karen says:

    An interesting post Mad Dog. I’m sorry to say but I’ll turn down crispy cod skin and definitely no to spicy crickets. 😀

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