Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category
Bacalhau (salted cod fish) is renowned for its versatility. Portugal’s obsession with this cured fish has produced, some say, more than 1000 variations. Bacalhau à Braz is certainly one of the classics. Created by Mr Bráz, owner of a tavern in Lisbon’s bohemian Bairro Alto, this dish combines shredded bacalhau with eggs to create a delicious snack or quick lunch. This recipe is a ‘low carb’ variation, substituting the traditional fried potatoes with grated carrots. This makes for a lighter, more colourful dish which still honours the magic combination of bacalhau, olive oil and garlic. Bacalhau must be soaked in cold water for 3 days (changing the water twice a day) before cooking. Alternatively you can buy already soaked cod in frozen packs. The original recipe asks for the cod to be boiled before shredding. I don’t find this necessary and I believe you get a better taste and texture from using it raw straight into the pan.
Sardines are a big deal in Portugal. Together with bacalhau (salted cod), the sardine has become a symbol of Portuguese food and culture recognised around the world. A visitor to Portugal will not need to search much to see sardines on a menu, printed on t-shirts, made out porcelain, on designer goods etc…
One of the classics amongst the 1001 bacalhau recipes that guide the Portuguese through each calendar year. This way of cooking cod intensifies its salty flavour and produces an irresistible sauce resulting from the mix of olive oil, garlic and the cod juices. Accompanying the cod is a bed of spring greens and the obligatory “batatas a murro”, baked potatoes, punched open just before serving.
Salted cod needs to be soaked in cold water for 2-3 days (depending on the thickness of the steaks). Water should be changed twice daily.
Atlantic mackerel (carapau) is by far the most popular variety of mackerel in Portugal. Its close cousin, the common mackerel (cavala) has been on the sidelines of Portuguese cooking for a number of years but is now enjoying a well deserved revival. Its health benefits together with unique taste and texture make this a prime choice for a fish meal. This recipe combines the strong taste of smoked mackerel with the sweetness of Rocha pears – the uniquely Portuguese pear variety created by the Rocha family in 1836 in Sintra.
This recipe claims no historical authenticity but is inspired by the first cookbook to be published in Portugal – Domingos Rodrigues’ Arte de Cozinha (1680). The book is a fascinating journey into a world of flavours that combine recently available spices like saffron, cinnamon and cardamon with european cooking methods. Th Portuguese discoveries of the XIV and XV century transformed the larder of not only Portuguese society but all of Europe as well bringing old Portuguese techniques to South America, India, China and Japan!
The sauce presented here is inspired by a combination of almond flour and egg yolk which seems to have been used as a standard technique for providing body and texture to sauces and soups in Rodrigues’ book. We use it here to produce a light and delicate sauce flavoured with mussel juice, served with roast asparagus.
Salted cod fritters are found everywhere in Portugal. You will encounter them in the most basic tascas (tavernas) and the poshest restaurant in Lisbon or Porto . This is a traditional way of using leftover bits of cod though this recipe offers a somewhat deluxe version with prime salted cod chunks fried in a light chick pea flour batter. With the chick pea (gram flour) replacing white flour and the olive oil replacing frying oil, this is as healthy as a fritter can get!
Portuguese families will not only revel on these wonderful snacks featuring our most precious salted fish but will also indulge in the quasi-omolette formed by frying the batter left over from coating the cod. There is inevitably a family member watching out for these…