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.
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.
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…
A confit is simply a method of slow cooking in fat or oil. The great variety of high quality Portuguese olive oil is a great excuse to try a twist on the traditional salted cod. This recipe brings together three classic ingredients of Portuguese cuisine: bacalhau, garlic and olive oil.
Given the ubiquitousness of salted cod (bacalhau) in Portuguese cuisine, this blog has admittedly few references to it so on to the task of remedying that with a classic dish from the centre of Portugal (Beiras region) – Bacalhau à Lagareiro. Lagar is the portuguese term for olive oil press and lagareiro referring to the worker of the press. This recipe, not surprisingly, is very much about putting the best quality olive oil (azeite) at the centre of the dish. Together with flavourful garlic and “punched potatoes”, this is one of those simple combinations of flavours and textures that is characteristically Portuguese. As with most bacalhau recipes the cod needs to be soaked beforehand. Soaked cod freezes well so you can soak a larger batch and freeze individual tranches.
Raw salted cod salad goes under numerous names and variations in traditional Portuguese cooking. A constant is top quality olive oil which is essential to pretty much any cod dish. This recipe for carpaccio is stripped down to bare essentials and uses thinly cut slices of cod rather than the traditional hand shredded.
One of the popular 1001 bacalhau (salted cod) recipes, this is certainly on entry level as far as eating salted cod is concerned. The flavour of the cod infuses the creamy sauce which in the oven forms a delicious gratin crust. This dish uses flaked cod so you don’t need prime cuts however, the better the cod the better the dish. This recipe uses fried potatoes but these can be replaced by boiled potato cubes though it is important that the whole thing doesn’t turn into mash so stay away from floury potatoes!
I’m not sure this is one of the 1001 ways of cooking salted cod (bacalhau) that the Portuguese brag about but here it is. It usually works for those on the opposite spectrum from boiled cod lovers and is a kind of variation of the traditional chick pea and cod salad (salada de grão com bacalhau).