As you’ve probably already heard about, one of the most popular base ingredients in portuguese cooking is Bacalhau (codfish).
One example of how ingrained the salted cod fish is in the portuguese national psyche is the fact that this fish is the main celebrational meal at Christmas tables all around the country. A love affair with this pungent smelling fish that can be difficult to understand once it is not native of our oceans. But the truth is, there are more Bacalhau portuguese recipes than there are days in an year.
Below we’ll let you dream a little of the Portuguese flavours with 5 of the most famous ways of cooking this dried and salted codfish, recipes that you can put yourself to experience before you have the opportunity to came and have it cooked by a Portuguese grandmother!
Very important tip! Before following any Bacalhau recipe, you must first soak the codfish from 24 / 48 hours (depending on the size), changing the water constantly during this period.
Bacalhau à Lagareiro
Original from the Beira region where people use to cook it in the ovens of the olive oil cellars, this dish of codfish in olive oil goes by different names: à Lagareiro, Bacalhau no forno (codfish in the oven) or Bacalhau assado com batatas a murro (roasted codfish with, literally translated, “punched” potatoes). Regardless the name, this is one of the most renowned recipes of Bacalhau.
- 800g Cod loins
- 1 bay leaf
- 600 g potatoes
- 3 sliced garlic cloves
- 2 dl olive oil, extra virgin
- Salt, if needed
- Heat the oven to 200°C (390ºF)
- Wash the potatoes and bring them to a boil. Let them boil for a bit, then take them out of the water, place them on a tray and let them finish cooking in the pre-heated oven. When the potatoes are soft, take them out of the oven and punch them with your closed fist. You can place a kitchen cloth between your hand and the hot potatoes, so you don’t get burned.
- Place the cod on a tray. Drizzle half of the olive oil and add the garlic and the bay leaf. Place the tray in the oven. Occasionally drizzle the cod with the olive oil to moisten it.
- Place the potatoes on a serving tray, layer the cod on top, and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Finish with some chopped cilantro before serving.
Bacalhau à Brás
Bacalhau à Brás is original from the Bairro Alto Lisbon’s neighborhood. Combines shredded bacalhau with thinly cut potatoes bound together by scrambled egg. Is probably one of the most popular versions of cooking bacalhau in Portuguese cuisine likely because it is so simple to make yet also so delicious.
- 400g of codfish
- 500 g of potatoes
- 1 Onion
- 1 large garlic head
- 6 Eggs
- Black olives
- To prepare the Portuguese Bacalhau à Bras recipe, start having soaked the salt cod, then remove the skin and bones, and break it apart with your hands.
- Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into matchsticks and the onion into fine rings.
- Fry the potatoes in a pan and set them to one side, drying them on kitchen paper.
- At the same time, in a deep pan, sweat the onions and garlic until golden, then add the pieces of salt cod, and cook for a few minutes, until it soaks up the oil.
- At this stage, add the potatoes and stir whilst adding the lightly beaten eggs with salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes, turning off the heat before the eggs solidify and become an omelette!
- The Bacalhau à bras has to be served hot, with parsley and black olives.
Bacalhau com Broa
Broa stands for corn bread, although it is not quite the same, once Broa is a very genuine and almost exclusive Portuguese type of corn bread. If you find difficult to find, you can replace it with bread crumbs.
- 500 g Cod
- 4 to 5 medium potatoes
- 3 Eggs
- ½ corn bread (only the crumb)
- 2 Onions
- 6 Garlic cloves
- 3 branches of parsley
- Olive oil, salt and olives
- Prepare the bread. Remove the entire crust and crumble the crumb. Add two cloves of garlic and sprigs of parsley, all finely chopped. Reserve.
- Place a pan of water and salt over the fire. Add the eggs and potatoes, peeled and sliced to cook.
- Sprinkle the bottom of a skillet with oil and place the onion in thin slices with two chopped garlic cloves. Let it brown.
- Once ready, place in the bottom of the container that will go to the oven with the cod. Reserve.
- In the same pan, and without washing, chop two more cloves of garlic and sprinkle again with olive oil. When the oil is hot again add the well drained cod.
- Let it cook until it starts to dry. When the potatoes are cooked, remove from heat and drain. Distribute over the onion. Peel the eggs and slice them, placing them on top of the potatoes. Cover with the cod and finally the cornbread.
- Place some olives distributed on top of the tray, water the entire surface with a drizzle of olive oil and bring to a preheated oven at 180 ºC (360ºF) until it is ‘toasted’. Serve hot.
Bacalhau com Natas
Bacalhau com Natas (Bacalhau and Cream) is a rich and creamy potatoe baked dish, probably one of the most appetizing Bacalhau dish served in the portuguese cuisine for the food lovers around the world.
- 500g of salted cod, cut in 4 pieces
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced thin
- 200 ml cup milk
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 3 tablespoons of regular flour
- 1/4 of a cup of water
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- Shredded cheese
- 200 ml cup of heavy cream
- Drain the cod
- Remove bones and skin and pull the cod into small shreds, set aside.
- In a heavy skillet over low heat, fry the onion in olive oil until soft and golden.
- Stir-fry the potatoes in the oil in a second heavy skillet over low heat about 3 minutes, add the water, turn the heat to its lowest, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes.
- When the onions are softly golden, mix in the cod and 100ml of milk, cover and cook over lowest heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
- While the cod cooks, prepare a white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and blend in the flour, add the remaining milk and heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Blend in the pepper and reserve.
- When the cod has only 10 minutes more to cook, preheat the oven to 230ºC (450º F). When the cod is done, mix in the potatoes, white sauce, and cream.
- Transfer to a baking casserole dish and cover it with the shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 min. Then lower to 180ºC (350ºF) and let it bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.
- Once done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes and then it is ready to serve.
Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá
From the northern Portuguese city of Porto it is one of the most delicious and unique ways to prepare Bacalhau: “à Gomes de Sá”.
- 700 g cod
- 250 g sliced onion
- 1 kg potatoes
- 100 ml olive oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- Defrost the cod and cook it;
- Once cooked, remove from water, let it warm and remove the skins and bones, reserve;
- Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut them in slices;
- Cook them in salted water;
- After cooked, remove them from the water and place them on a tray, place the cod on top;
- Take the onion and sauté with the oil until it is folded with a bay leaf;
- Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat;
- Cook the eggs for 12 minutes after they start to boil;
- Remove, place in cold water until they are very cold, and cut into slices;
- Place the onion over the cod, then the eggs;
- Take to the oven preheated to 200ºC (390ºF) until everything is very hot;
- Remove and serve sprinkled with chopped coriander and olives
And there you have some of the best ways of cooking codfish! Did they let your mouth water?
You can put yourself to work and prepare some of them before you have the opportunity to come and have it cooked by a Portuguese grandmother!
And in your country? What are the most famous recipes? Share with us in the comments, tell us how your experience on cooking Bacalhau was or what other Portuguese dishes you would like to know!