It still amazes me that a fish that is not found off the shores of Portugal, and therefore has to be imported into the country, is the national dish of Portugal; particularly bearing in mind how many other types of fish can be found the sea around Portugal. But bacalhau (dried salted cod) is Portugal’s national dish and there are infinite ways of cooking it; it is said that there is a different bacalhau recipe for each day of the year. Cod is even the national dish of choice for Christmas dinner.
Bacalhau à Brás (Portuguese cod, egg and chips) is one of the most popular cod dishes. It is easy to cook and is ultimate comfort food. If you can’t get dried salted cod, the recipe works just as well with fresh cod, but you don’t need to leave it to soak first.
400g dried salted cod (or fresh cod)
1.2 litres vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
40 black olives
- If you are using dried salted cod place it in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Leave it to soak for 12 hours. If you are using fresh cod you do not need to soak it.
- Remove the skin and bones, and break the flesh apart.
- Cut the potatoes into matchsticks. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and fry the potatoes in the hot oil until light golden brown (approx. 7 minutes). Remove them from the pan and dry them on kitchen paper.
- Cut the onion into thin rings and finely chop the garlic. Sweat the onion rings and the garlic in the olive oil in a deep pan until golden, then add the pieces of salt cod, and cook for a few minutes, until they soak up the oil.
- Lightly beat the eggs. Add salt and pepper to the eggs.
- Add the potatoes to the onion, garlic and cod mixture and stir whilst adding the lightly beaten eggs.
- Stir for a few minutes, turning off the heat before the eggs solidify.
- Serve hot, garnished with the chopped parsley and black olives.