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Information about Bacalhau plus lots of Bacalhau Recipes

Featured Ingredient - Portugal



Go to:-   Portugal  Speciality Dish   |  Portugal Main Page  |  Cooking by Country Main Page




Bacalhau is the Portuguese name for cod. It is a very popular fish in Portugal, so much so that they say they have a different bacalhau recipe for each day of the year ! For the sake of interest, here we will be talking about a certain type of cod which is widely used in Portuguese cuisine i.e. dry, salt-cured cod, also called Saltfish in other parts of the world.


Although this type of Saltfish is considered to be one of the national ingredients of Portugal, the cod used in the process has never been fished in Portuguese waters and even today, it is imported by the tonne to satiate their love and use of it. The abundance of cod made it a relatively cheap source of protein.


Traditionally, the cod was salted aboard the fishing boats then laid out in the sun to dry, however there is proof of the existence of factories designed just to process bacalhau in Iceland and Norway dating back to the 9th century. Many believed, and still believe, the best cod is caught in Norwegian waters.


Saltfish became even more important at the time when the Portuguese began venturing out to explore other parts of the world in the 15th Century, and salted cod was high amongst the preserved foods taken to feed the sailors on the long trips at sea.


Below is a traditional Portuguese recipe using Bacalhau however, you will find  recipes using this ingredient on both the  Portugal Cooking by Country main page and in other sections of this web site. Use the search facility below to find them all although when searching us the term "Saltfish".


Happy cooking!


Bacalhau Fornado : Salt Cod Pie      HT  MC  Portuguese  60mins plus soaking

Serves 4     Hot  Fish  Main Course  Eggless  Portugal  Europe

300g/11oz Salted Cod (Saltfish), pre-soaked
30ml/10fl.oz. Milk
2 Bay Leaves
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
1 Capsicum (Sweet Pepper), thinly sliced
2 large Tomatoes, chopped
1 heaped tbsp Freshly chopped Parsley
25g/1oz Butter
1 tbsp Plain Flour
450g/1lb Mashed Potato

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1. Place the saltfish in a saucepan together with the milk and bay leaves, bring to simmering point then cook gently for about 15 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, gas Mark 6. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until softened.

3. Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes. Set aside.

4. Once cooked, remove the fish from the milk with a slotted spoon (reserving the milk), remove any bones and skin and flake into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

5. In a clean saucepan, melt the butter and then stir in flour and cook , over a medium heat, stirring, for 1 minute.

6. Reduce the heat to low then add the reserved milk a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Bring to boil, stirring constantly then remove from the heat and stir in the fresh parsley and the fish.

7. Spread the onion mixture in the bottom of an oven proof casserole dish, pour in the fish mixture then spread the mashed potato evenly over the top.

8. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until browned on top. Serve immediately.


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