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Bacalhau – the national dish of Portugal

BacalhauBacalhau means “cod” in Portuguese but the word also refers to salted cod, the national dish of Portugal. Bachalhau is very popular in Portugal, as well as in Galicia (Spain). However, it’s not a staple dish in the former Portuguese colonies.

When is Bacalhau eaten?

Salted cod is considered a delicacy. It’s eaten on special days such as Christmas Day or during the Holy Week. It’s also a very common dish on Good Friday.

Bacalhau dishes

Some say there are 365 ways of cook bacalhau, one for each day of the week. Others say there are 101 ways to prepare it. No mater who you believe, there are a lot of recipe variations, depending both on the traditions and regions.

Bacalhau is usually served with potatoes. Wine always accompanies the dish.

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is one of the most popular ways of cooking salted fish. It’s basically a cod casserole made with salted cod, potatoes and onions. You’ll find this specialty in the northern part of Porto but it has rapidly gained fans all over Portugal.

Bolinhos de bacalhau are deep-fried balls made from the less expensive parts of the cod mixed with potatoes, parsley and eggs. You’ll even find them in bars in Brazil, served along side with beer.

Make your own Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

Bacalhau casseroleThe name of the dish might sound really complicated, but the preparation is not. So if you plan an ethnic dinner, why not try this savory Portuguese dish?

To prepare Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá you need: 2 pounds (about 1 kg) of salted code (bachalhau), 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 large onions sliced, 4 cloves minced garlic, a pinch of nutmeg, 4 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into slices, 8 hard-boiled eggs for garnish and a dash of white paper.

Rinse the code to eliminate the surface salt then place the cod in a pot with cold water and refrigerate for 24 hours. Change the water often and keep the pot covered. After 24 hours, pour off the water, refill with fresh water and boil the cod about 10 minutes. Meantime, heat some olive oil in a pan, sote the onions and add the garlic. Drain the cod and let it cool. Remove the skin and bones and flake the code in a large bowl. Add the onions and garlic mixture, the nutmeg, the pepper and the rest of the olive oil (about 3 tablespoons). Put the mixture into a well-oiled ovenproof casserole dish and cover with the sliced potatoes. Cook at 400 F / 200 C for 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, you can oil a cooking sheet, place it on top of the casserole and invert it. Remove the dish, making sure the mixture is intact, then cook as mentioned above. Cut in squares, garnish with several olives, 2 egg halves, some olive oil and parsley. Enjoy!