It is said that there are over 700 different ways to prepare Portuguese style cod fish. Bacalhau à Brás is one of the more popular and certainly one of the most famous ways to enjoy this versatile ingredient.
One might wonder why salt cod is so important and prevalent to the Portuguese cuisine. But, one must only think about the historical aspect of the Portuguese culture to understand it. The Portuguese have long been famous sea-faring people. From the great Prince Henry the Navigator to Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese ruled the seas and for a short time in history were the most powerful nation in the world because of it. So what sustained all those great sailors? Why… salt cod of course. While I’m sure the Portuguese had other foods among their mighty ships, salt cod was an easy sustainable and very easily stored source of protein for the men who braved the oceans for centuries. It could be kept in a ship hold for months or even years if need be and if they ran out all they need do is make more right out on the ocean.
This particular dish is not something I would call a “weeknight” meal. There are several stages to preparing the recipe not least of which includes soaking the cod overnight and changing out the water several times to tame down it’s saltiness. Then there is the preparing of the potatoes which in my recipe are first par boiled and then fried. Then making the sautéed onions, garlic and pepper and preparing the eggs. Do this on a Friday night for lent or on a Sunday for lunch and you are sure to be pleased!
Bacalhau à BrásServes 6
1 – 1 1/2 lbs. salt cod tid bits, soaked, drained and chuncked
7-8 medium new potatoes, par boiled, peeled and cut into matchstick fries
8 lg. eggs, well beaten
4 onions, thinly sliced in rings
4 garlic cloves, sliced and chopped
4 Tbs. pimenta moida (alternatively 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to finish dish
1 cup vegetable oil for frying potatoes only
1 cup olives (optional)
Fry dry cut potatoes in either a skillet with 1 cup of veggie oil or in a deep fryer until golden. Drain on pepper towels and lightly salt.
Sautée onions in a skillet with olive oil over med. heat. When onions start to take on color, add in garlic, sautée another minute. Add in Pimenta Moida, sautée another minute. Add in chunked cod, continue to sautée a few minutes. Add french fries and stir to incorporate. Add in egg and stir to coat all ingredients in the skillet. Immediately add parsley and stir. Cook until egg is almost set. Garnish with additional parsley, olives and drizzle with fresh olive oil. Serve hot.