How to Make Merluza en Salsa: A Delicious Spanish Dish


Merluza en salsa, also known as hake in sauce, is a traditional Spanish dish that combines the delicate flavor of hake fish with a rich and flavorful sauce. This dish is popular in many regions of Spain, and its preparation can vary slightly depending on the local culinary traditions. In this article, we will explore the steps to make merluza en salsa, discuss the key ingredients, and provide some tips to enhance the flavor of this delightful dish.

The Ingredients You Will Need

Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s take a look at the key ingredients required to make merluza en salsa:

  • 500 grams of fresh hake fillets
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A handful of fresh parsley, chopped

The Cooking Process

Now that we have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of making merluza en salsa:

Step 1: Prepare the Hake Fillets

Start by rinsing the hake fillets under cold water to remove any impurities. Pat them dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.

Step 2: Prepare the Sauce

In a large skillet or frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté until they become translucent and fragrant. This should take about 5 minutes.

Next, add the diced red and green bell peppers to the pan and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. The vibrant colors of the peppers will add a beautiful touch to the dish.

Now, it’s time to add the crushed tomatoes, paprika, dried oregano, and bay leaf to the pan. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. This will allow the flavors to meld together and create a delicious base for the fish.

Step 3: Cook the Hake Fillets

Once the sauce has simmered and developed a rich flavor, carefully place the seasoned hake fillets on top of the sauce in the pan. Make sure they are evenly distributed and submerged in the sauce.

Cover the pan with a lid and let the fish cook for about 10-12 minutes over medium-low heat. The hake fillets should become tender and flaky, absorbing the flavors of the sauce.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

Once the hake fillets are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the chopped parsley over the dish. The fresh parsley will add a burst of freshness and color to the final presentation.

Serve the merluza en salsa hot, accompanied by crusty bread or a side of fluffy white rice. The sauce is so flavorful that you’ll want to savor every last drop!

Tips to Enhance the Flavor

To take your merluza en salsa to the next level, consider incorporating these tips:

  • Marinate the hake fillets in lemon juice and a pinch of salt for 30 minutes before cooking. This will help tenderize the fish and infuse it with a subtle citrus flavor.
  • Add a splash of white wine to the sauce while it simmers. The acidity of the wine will balance the flavors and give the dish a delightful tang.
  • Experiment with different herbs and spices to customize the sauce according to your taste preferences. Some popular options include thyme, rosemary, and cayenne pepper.
  • For a heartier version of merluza en salsa, you can add some cooked potatoes or sliced carrots to the sauce. These vegetables will complement the fish and make the dish more filling.


1. Can I use frozen hake fillets instead of fresh ones?

Yes, you can use frozen hake fillets if fresh ones are not available. Just make sure to thaw them thoroughly before cooking and pat them dry to remove any excess moisture.

2. Can I substitute hake with another type of fish?

While merluza en salsa traditionally uses hake, you can experiment with other white fish varieties such as cod or haddock. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on the thickness of the fillets, so adjust accordingly.

3. Can I make merluza en salsa in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the sauce and cook the hake fillets as instructed in the recipe.

4. Is merluza en salsa a healthy dish?

Merluza en salsa is a nutritious dish that provides a good source of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids. However, the overall healthiness of the dish depends on the cooking method and portion size. Avoid excessive oil or salt and pair it with a balanced side dish for a well-rounded meal.

5. Can I freeze leftovers?

Yes, you can freeze any leftover merluza en salsa for future enjoyment. Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight and gently warm it on the stovetop.


Merluza en salsa is a delightful Spanish dish that combines the delicate flavor of hake fish with a rich and flavorful sauce. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article and incorporating some tips to enhance the flavor, you can create a mouthwatering meal that will impress your family and friends. Whether you’re a seafood lover or simply looking to explore new culinary horizons, merluza en salsa is a must-try dish that will transport your taste buds to the sunny shores of Spain.



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