My husband loves to cook and is really good at it. Lucky me! My competitive nature, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky. Therefore, I’ve made it my mission to learn to cook Portuguese food really well. If we each have our areas of expertise, it doesn’t matter that his Italian ragù will always be better than mine. One of my favorite Portuguese foods is Bacalhau à Brás (cod Brás-style) and it’s always a hit at dinner parties when I make it… and if I can make it, so can you!
For full disclosure, this recipe is stolen (video in Portuguese here) from Chef José Avillez, one of our most well-known chefs. Catarina’s tip: if you double the recipe, you can always freeze half and save it for an impromptu dinner!
Bacalhau à Brás
Serves 4-5 people
If you’re familiar with Portuguese cod, you’ll know that you need to buy the salted cod (pictures above) and soak it in cold water, changing it regularly, until the water is no longer salty. This usually takes 24-48 hours depending on the thickness of the salted cod. Once the cod is ready, shred it loosely with your hands, removing any bones, until you have the desired quantity for the recipe.
3 onions, cut into fine half-moons (I chop the bigger pieces in half)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
400 g. (14 oz.) shredded cod, after soaking and removing bones
500 g. (1.1 lbs) potato sticks (if you can’t get yourself some authentic batata frita palha, try French’s Potato Sticks or Utz Potato Stix). But please do not use any other shape!
8 free-range eggs, plus 4 egg yolks (save the remaining egg whites for a healthy omelette!)
Fresh parsley, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1. Heat onions, garlic and bay leaf in a large pan with some olive oil on a low heat until the onions start to soften.
2. As the onions cook, combine the eggs and egg yolks in a separate bowl and give them a good stir.
3. Add the cod to the onions and stir for a minute or two. Very important: keep the heat on low for the duration of the recipe.
4. Add about 1/5 of the matchstick potato chips to the cod and stir.
5. Add about 1/4 of the eggs to the cod and stir very quickly, making sure not to let the egg cook at the bottom of the pan; instead, letting it cook into the cod and chips. The entire thing should be creamy in texture.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5, leaving the potato chips until the end and giving them a good stir. Take the pan off the heat.
7. Finely chop the fresh parsley and stir in. Add pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf.
8. Serve onto plates or a large serving tray and decorate with whole olives. Serve with a side of green leaf salad.
9. Let me know if you love it as much as my friends and I do!
*Salted cod photos above taken from nsperra.as and thetapaslunchcompany.co.uk