Cod (bacalhau) has played an important role in Portugal’s maritime history, and is such a standby in family dining that it is commonly known as the “faithful friend”. Fished in the cold, far-off waters of Newfoundland, it had to be salted to preserve it until the fishing fleet returned home. The dish was popular in Portugal and other Roman Catholic countries because of the many days on which the Church forbade the eating of meat. Emblematic of Portuguese cooking, a delicacy enjoyed by fishermen and peasants alike, cod is enjoyed throughout the country, particularly served as fish balls. In Porto in the north, you will see rows and rows of large, white salted codfish drying in lines in shop windows all over the city.

With the collapse of cod stocks and dismantling of the cod fleet, bacalhau has become expensive, especially around Christmas time, as it features in traditional dishes of the holiday season. Bacalhau à Brás, a cod recipe which originates from Lisbon, is now served the length and breadth of Portugal. Accompany it with two wines from the north of the country—the white vinho verde (green wine) or the light and slightly sparkling Mateus rosé produced at the Mateus Palace in the Douro Valley. The Douro River valley is the oldest demarcated wine region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vinho verde is produced at Ponte de Lima in the heart of a rich farming region.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 500g (about 1lb) of cod
  • 500g of potatoes, fried
  • 3 medium-sized onions
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • Chopped parsley, black olives, salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  • Soak the cod overnight, changing the water several times.
  • Shred the cod, taking care to remove the skin and any bones, and rinse through a cloth.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut into strips.
  • Slice the onions into thin rings.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan with the garlic and remove when golden. Fry the onions until golden and add the cod. Leave on the heat for 5 minutes, add the potatoes and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and add the beaten eggs and mix well. Sprinkle with parsley and decorate with the black olives.

Source: Michelin Travel

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