In the heart of Portuguese cuisine lies a dish that intertwines simplicity with the rich flavors of the sea: Bacalhau à Brás. Bacalhau, or salted codfish, has been a staple in Portuguese kitchens for centuries, earning it the title of “the faithful friend” among locals. The dish, Bacalhau à Brás, is a delightful mélange of shredded bacalhau, crispy straw fries, sautéed onions, and softly scrambled eggs, often garnished with chopped parsley and black olives. Originating from the Bairro Alto district of Lisbon, this dish is a testament to the Portuguese knack for transforming humble ingredients into culinary masterpieces. It’s not merely a meal but a journey through Portugal’s rich maritime history and its deep-rooted tradition of salt cod dishes.
- 500g (about 1lb) of salted cod, soaked and shredded
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4-5 medium potatoes, cut into thin matchsticks (or use store-bought straw fries)
- 6 eggs
- Olive oil for frying
- A handful of chopped parsley
- Black olives for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Prepare the Bacalhau
- Soak the salted cod in cold water for 24-48 hours, changing the water several times to remove the salt.
- After soaking, boil the cod for about 15-20 minutes until it flakes easily.
- Once cooled, shred the cod into pieces, removing any bones and skin.
Step 2: Prepare the Potatoes
- If you’re using fresh potatoes, peel and cut them into thin matchsticks (like straw fries).
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan and fry the potatoes until they are golden and crispy.
- Remove the potatoes from the pan and set them aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
Step 3: Sauté the Onions and Garlic
- In the same pan, add a bit more olive oil if needed, and sauté the sliced onions and minced garlic until the onions are translucent and slightly golden.
- Add the shredded bacalhau to the pan and cook with the onions and garlic for a few minutes.
Step 4: Add the Eggs
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and season them with a bit of salt and pepper.
- Add the eggs to the pan with the bacalhau and onions, stirring gently to combine.
- Allow the eggs to cook without stirring too much, so they softly scramble without becoming too broken up.
Step 5: Combine and Serve
- Once the eggs are mostly set but still slightly runny, add the fried potatoes to the pan, gently folding them into the mixture.
- Cook for an additional minute or two until everything is hot and well combined.
- Serve the Bacalhau à Brás garnished with chopped parsley and black olives.
Embark on a culinary adventure through the lens of Bacalhau à Brás, and savor a piece of Portugal’s rich and flavorful heritage. Enjoy!