Recipe: Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá
Bacalhau (Salt Cod) has to be the most ubiquitous food in Portugal and this is just one way to do it. This particular version of preparing the faithful friend (Portuguese sometimes refer to Salted Cod in this way) comes out of Northern Portugal and is typically attributed to the city of Porto. It’s a casserole dish and in my opinion, a fine one indeed!
This is my Grandmother’s recipe. There are several variations of this dish, but this is the one I take the most pleasure in cooking and eating.
Disclaimer: This is a bit labour intensive, but the pay-off is worth it.
- 750 to 1kg of salt cod (you can play with the fish to potato ratio, I like half and half)
- ¾ to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ – 2 cups finely diced white/yellow onions
- 2 tablespoons diced garlic
- High quality salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 kilo of waxy potatoes, peeled & chopped
- 5 hardboiled eggs
- Black olives as many as you like (topping)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Up to 2 cups of milk (don’t use skim milk) – If you are lactose intolerant you can skip this ingredient
- The first thing you need to take on is de-salting the cod, this is easy, but it takes some time. Get a big pot and soak the cod for 24 hours, changing the water 3 or 4 times during the process.
- Once the cod has been de-salted we can start cooking it. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; make sure it is sufficient to cover all the cod. Add the cod to the boiling water and boil for 25 minutes.
- Take the pot off the heat and drain the water. Put the cod in a separate bowl and wait until it cools down. Then flake the flesh of the cod off of the bones, removing any skin as well. Be careful here as there can be quite a few tiny bones that need to be removed.
- Next put the cod into a pot with some milk. The milk should just cover the cod fully. Warm the milk and lightly simmer for up to one hour, stirring occasionally. One of two things will happen here, the milk will either be fully absorbed or partially absorbed. If you are lactose intolerant you can skip this step, you’ll still get a lovely meal.
- While your cod is simmering with its milk you can boil your chopped potatoes for 15-20 minutes, then drain. Poke them with a fork to make sure they don’t overcook and become too mushy. You want them to still be solid as if you were going to put them in a salad.
- After you get your potatoes going, put your cup of extra virgin olive oil in a small pot and add your onions. Bring to a light boil. Boil the onions until they start to lightly brown and then add the garlic. Give it a few more minutes and then take it off the heat. Do not boil longer than 10 minutes.
- Drain the cod again, discarding the milk.
- Mix the cod and potatoes together. Add them to your casserole. Ceramic or metallic, either kind will do the trick. Pour your olive oil, onion, and garlic mixture evenly over the top of the potatoes and cod.
- Put the casserole in the oven at 200 C for 15 minutes.
- Remove the casserole and add you eggs on top (cut them in halves or quarters) along with as many black olives as you like.
- Return you casserole to the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Remove your dish, the onion and garlic on top should be golden and just a little crispy. Sprinkle some parsley on top, portion it out, and enjoy.
P.S. If it ever looks or seems a bit dry, don’t be afraid to add more olive oil. It’s all good.