Bacalhau, literally translated means ‘cod.’ In the culinary context it means ‘dried and salted cod’ and is used to make an endless variety of dishes. There probably aren’t two bacalhau dishes that are the same and this is what makes bacalhau so exciting. But, you have to like fish as much as I do to enjoy the endless variety of bacalhau dishes available! Bacalhau is traditionally portuguese and is an iconic ingredient in portuguese cuisine. Because of portuguese colonization in Brazil, bacalhau made its way to this far off country and has now become a traditional dish.
Growing up in England I was a huge fan of fresh cod and never had the opportunity to try salted cod before coming to Brazil. Salted cod can be difficult to find in the USA (I do not know about England, but I presume it is difficult too since there is so much of the fresh stuff) and it is not really used in the American or English cuisine. So, it was while in Brazil for the first time that I tried bacalhau and although strange at first I kind of liked it. After trying bacalhay for the first time I didn’t eat it for many years; for some reason it was not one of the go-to dishes when I was in Brazil. It was not until my husband and I found an AMAZING portuguese restaurant in Cambridge Massachusetts, Casa Portugal that I really developed a love for dried and salted cod. Casa Portugal became our favorite restaurant while we lived in the Boston area and the bacalhau that they served was to-die-for! So, it was in Cambridge where I really learned to like bacalhau and now I can’t get enough of this stuff. (If you are in São Paulo try this wonderful portuguese restaurant in Chacara Santo Antonio).
Bacalhau à Brás
1kg (2lbs 2oz) salted cod
1kg (2lbs 2oz) potatoes
3 large onions
1 cup olive oil
8 eggs, mixed in a bowl
100g black olives
salt and pepper to taste
Leave the salted cod in water for one day. Next day, drain the water and while still raw remove all the bones and skin. Shred the cod finely.
Peel and cube the potatoes, season with salt, and fry in a good amount of oil until they are soft; drain the oil and set potatoes aside.
Thinly slice the onions and fry in the olive oil for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft, but not browning. Add the shredded cod and mix well.
Fry until the cod is cooked and then add the potatoes.
Increase the heat for a few minutes and stir all ingredients well.
Decrease heat to medium-low and add the eggs and chopped parsley. Mix well and cook until the egg is well done. Add olives last and mix well (you can also use the olives to decorate).
Serve with white rice or on its own!
For a PDF of Recipe CLICK HERE!
Stay tuned for my future post about salted cod!
Where to buy salted cod: If you have a portuguese store close-by definitely try them, it is likely that they will sell salted cod. Otherwise it might be easier to buy online. Some specialty grocery stores may sell salted cod! Here are links to buy salted cod online: Iceland Fish Online; Amazon.com; The Asian Cookshop (UK); Orce Serrano (EU).