Bacalhau Portuguese
(Portuguese Salted Cod)

Bacalhau Portuguese
(Portuguese Salted Cod)

Bacalhau (salted codfish) is the most popular base commodity in Portuguese cooking. Traditionally there are more than 365 different dishes, one for each day of the year. Bacalhau is so ingrained in the Portuguese national psyche that the dish is served as the main celebration meal at Christmas. The history of bacalhau can be traced back to the 14th century and the exploration era of the Portuguese. The dried and salted cod could be kept in the ships' holds for literary years, and fresh supplies could be obtained from the oceans during a voyage. Bacalhau salted codfish became a staple part of the Portuguese Navy's diet from 1497 with the discovery of vast reserves of cod off the shores of Newfoundland. 

How to Make Bacalhau 

The Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (900 g) salt cod, soaked
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 6 Tbsp (85 g) butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 large potatoes
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp (20 g) breadcrumbs
  • 10 green olives, pitted
  • 10 black olives, pitted
  • 4 large eggs, hard-cooked
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2–4 Tbsp wine vinegar to taste
  • 2–4 Tbsp olive oil to taste

The Directions

  • Soak the dried cod in cold water for about 24 hours, or until completely moistened, changing the water several times; drain thoroughly
  • Put the cod into a saucepan with cold water to cover
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until fish is tender
  • Drain; skin and bone the fish
  • Flake with a fork into large pieces
  • Sauté the onions in half the butter until they are tender and golden, then add the garlic
  • Boil the unpeeled potatoes in salted water
  • Once tender, remove from the heat and refresh in cold running water
  • Remove potato skins and slice into 1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
  • Grease a 1 1/2-qt (1 1/2-L) casserole dish with the remaining butter
  • Arrange a layer of half the potatoes, then half the cod, then half the onions
  • Sprinkle with a little pepper and repeat layering
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top layer
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through and lightly browned
  • Before serving, garnish with olives and eggs, and sprinkle with parsley
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“One of Portugal’s favorite national dishes is bacalhau. Versions of this dish are enjoyed everywhere from Italy and Africa to Scandinavia, where it is known as lutefisk. Bacalhau is a must-taste for any visitor to Portugal.”
–Gerard Van Helvoort, Culinary Director, Uniworld River Cruises

PREP TIME: 24 HOURS 30 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 35 - 40 MINUTES
SERVES: 6