Cod with asparagus and preserved lemons—and Valencia’s Maritime Holy Week

Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogThe recipe I’m sharing today, cod with asparagus and preserved lemons, is very appropriate for this time of year. Cod is a kind of fish long associated with Lent in Spain. Lent is now over, and you may not know that even though Easter Sunday has passed as well, we are still in the Easter season, which will last until the feast of the Pentecost, the Sunday about fifty days later.

Santa María del Mar, Mama Ía blog

Iglesia de Santa María del Mar, St Mary of the Sea Church, Valencia

Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blog

Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogWhat you may know is that we are also in the season of asparagus, one of the first spring time vegetables, so cod with asparagus should be on the menu.

By now you also know that cod is one of my favorite kind of fish, so it’s not surprising that once in a while I’ll share a new recipe that includes it. Like most of my recipes, this is an easy one, and as long as the fish is not overcooked, it is almost a no-fail recipe. The addition of preserved lemons and accompaniment of couscous reveal the Moroccan influence in this dish.

Santa María del Mar, Mama Ía blog

Semana Santa Marinera, Mama Ía blog

Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus the Nazarean on Palm Sunday

The blessing of the palms outside the old Grao Market

I am so happy to accompany this recipe with photos of the Semana Santa Marinera de Valencia, Valencia’s Maritime Holy Week processions, which after a couple of decades, I was able to experience firsthand this year.

Valencia’s Maritime Holy Week

Palm Sunday started at the church of Santa María del Mar, Saint Mary of the Sea, with the gathering of the cofrades of the Cristo de la Palma, the members of the Christ of the Palm brotherhood. With solemn procession music blaring from the bands, the members of the brotherhood followed the image of the Christ of the Palm through the streets of the maritime neighborhood of Valencia, alongside the harbor and into the narrow streets that make up this former fishermen neighborhood.

Semana Santa Marinera, Mama Ía blog

The Christ of the Palm processing on Palm Sunday (Grao de Valencia)

Semana Santa Marinera, Mama Ía blog

Semana Santa Marinera, Mama Ía blog

Our Lady of the Sea, waiting to process through the streets

At the same time, another procession started nearby, at Our Lady of the Angels parish, and another one at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, each one of them composed of their own brotherhoods.

The air was solemn but festive, as it was Palm Sunday. Numerous more processions had been happening since the Friday before and would continue throughout the following week, culminating on Easter Sunday. The pasos —the floats carrying the sculptures of different scenes of Jesus’ life and passion— processing through the streets varied depending on the day of the week and the solemmnity of that day, and the overall ensemble represented the passion of Jesus that led to his death and resurrection on Easter Sunday. I wasn’t in Valencia on Easter Sunday, but I can imagine the processions were happy and festive.

Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogCod with asparagus, Mama Ía blog

Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blog
Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogThe heartfelt celebrations of Holy Week in Spain are something to see, and even though they are celebrated slightly differently in the different regions of Spain, the feeling and devotion of the brothers in the brotherhoods and of the spectators lining the streets is the same. Valencia‘s Maritime Holy Week has been declared a Feast of National Interest by the Spanish government and I was happy to be there and sharing in the moment with my family and with the thousands of other devouts.

There’s a section in this blog where you can learn more about the details and idiosyncrasies of LENT AND HOLY WEEK IN SPAIN, and you can access it by clicking here. I’m also adding a couple of videos I took, which can give you a better idea of the sounds and sights of the Palm Sunday processions in Valencia, even if there’s no substitute for being there.

To find out more about VALENCIA’S MARITIME HOLY WEEK, click here.

Cod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogCod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogCod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogCod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogCod with asparagus, Mama Ía blogCod with asparagus, Mama Ía blog

As you can imagine, I enjoyed delicious fresh fish while in Valencia, and not just on the plate, but also by shopping at fishmongers (candy for my eyes!) and even visiting a fish auction in Gandía. Every time I make fish, like this delicious, flaky cod with asparagus and preserved lemons, I am reminded of where I come from.


A few clips of the Palm Sunday processions from Maritime Holy Week in Valencia:

Below is a playlist of 9 clips, with a brief pause between them (keep watching until the bells toll!)




Bacalao con espárragos y limones confitados

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Spanish

Servings: 5

Author: Natacha Sanz Caballero, Mama Ía blog

  • 2 Lbs fresh cod
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • 1 Lb asparagus
  • 1 preserved lemon (click for the recipe)
  • 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs minced flat leaf parsley

For the couscous:

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbs minced parsley
  • Rinse the cod and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the filets into 3-inch pieces. Season the pieces on both sides with freshly ground pepper and some salt.

  • Cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

  • Place the flour in a shallow bowl.

  • Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet. Working in batches, coat the cod in flour. When oil is hot, add the pieces of cod and sear until golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the cod to a plate.

  • In the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil and the butter. When it starts foaming, add the asparagus and cook, stirring once in a while, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the preserved lemons and stir. Then add the stock. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes.

  • Return the cod pieces and any collected juices to the pan and arrange with the asparagus. Cook on low heat for about 2 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and the cod is warmed through.

  • Sprinkle with fresh minced garlic and serve over couscous.

Make the couscous

  • In a stockpot, add 1 1/4 cups water, 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 minced garlic and 1/2 Tbs minced parsley. Bring to a boil and add 1 cup couscous. Cover and remove the pan from the heat source. The couscous will absorb all the liquid. Before serving fluff it with a fork.

  • Serve the fish and asparagus over a few spoonfuls of couscous.


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