"Bacalhau Portuguese" Portuguese Salt Cod

Bacalhau is so ingrained in the Portuguese national psyche that the dish is served as the main celebration meal at Christmas.

“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

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, and the country has a love affair with the pungent smelling fish. The history of bacalhau can be traced back to the 14th century and 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. 


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

Prep Time: 24hr 30m


Soak the dried cod in cold water for about 24 hours, or until completely moistened. Change 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. Serve with wine vinegar and oil in cruets and pepper on the side.
Serves 6

Cook Time: 35-40m

Total Time: 25hr 10m