How did Bacalhau à bras come to be?
(Sponsored post) Bacalhau à bras is a Portuguese dish, enjoyed by many people around the world. As far as my research tells me, the dish was created in the late 19th century. It was made in a tasca (small eatery with cheap good food) in Bairro Alto, Lisbon. The creator’s last name was Braz (later changed to Brás).
Apparently the dish was created in order to reduce food waste. Braz would debone, remove the skin and shred the less meaty parts of the cod. He’d then cook the fish with potatoes and eggs, making this an inexpensive meal that could feed many.
For our recipe we used the loin, a “meatier” part of the cod. You can use any part as long as you remove the bones and skin.
Let’s talk about salted cod.
One of the key ingredients in bacalhau à bras is, of course, salted cod. To preserve cod for long periods of time, the cod is soaked in a mixture of salt and water, then dried. This process gives the cod its distinctive flavour–a flavour you wouldn’t get with fresh cod. This preservation method allows the cod to keep, unrefrigerated for a long time, and makes it a convenient and tasty ingredient for many dishes, like this one we’re sharing today.
To use salted cod in your dish, the cod needs to be soaked in water to remove most of the saltiness. This can be done for a few hours, overnight or even for a couple of days. In some cases the fish is very salty and should soak in water at least overnight. For a longer soak, it’s best to change out the water every 6 to 8 hours.
Preparing Bacalhau à bras
After its long soak, the fish is then cooked until it’s tender and flaky, and then shredded into small pieces. The potatoes are fried, onions cooked until they’re soft, and the eggs are beaten and added to the mixture to cook. This is the base of the dish.
Our version of the recipe also includes sundried black olives, garlic and white wine. There are many variations out there and I won’t claim that ours is the original version, but it is delicious!
Traditionally this is often served with a side of boiled or steamed veggies or a fresh salad. Don’t forget the crusty bread and, some good red wine.
Our time-saving hack: frozen shoestring or matchstick fries!
Before you get the urge to correct me in the comments :-), yes I do believe that the recipe is even tastier with very thinly cut homemade french fries. Homemade is often the best approach to many recipes. Having said that, if you’re on a time crunch or prefer not to have to clean grease splatter around the stove, this is an incredibly easy and tasty modification.
For our recipe we bought frozen shoestring fries (also known as matchstick or julienned) and we baked them instead of frying. This cut down mess and time, both of which we needed to minimize during our busy weekend. As long as you plan, and soak the salted cod in advance, the actual cooking and prep time is minimal. If you have the time and patience, try it with fried shoestring-cut potatoes. We’ll be doing this over the holidays when we take a little work break.
Cooking with the right tools makes a difference
For today’s recipe we used our trusty ProClad 5-Ply Aluminum Core Stainless Steel large pot to do all the cooking. Our friends at Meyer Canada sent us this new set and we’re exctatic with the performance of this cookware.
The pots are built like tanks, they’re induction friendly, they perform incredibly well and they’re beatiful to look at! Meyer Canada’s innovative cookware is used by some of the most influential and popular chefs in the world, so you know you’re buying top-notch cookware with them.
It’s easier than you might have thought. Give it a try!
Bacalhau à bras is a delicious and satisfying dish that is enjoyed by many people in Portugal and around the world, in homes and at restaurants. Its combination of tender, flavorful cod, yummy potatoes, sautéed onions, and scrambled eggs make it a tasty, inexpensive and satisfying meal. With a dish like this, you’re sure to make today yummy!
Portuguese shredded cod fish with onions, eggs and fries + a time-saving hack! Bacalhau à Brás.
- 3 lbs salted code fish loins soaked in cold water overnight
- 1/2 cup olive oil + extra to drizzle over the platter before serving
- 2 large cooking onions sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic sliced thin
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 8 large eggs
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black ground pepper
- 2 lbs shoestring or matchstick frozen fries
- 1 cup sundried black olives with pits
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley + a bit extra for garnish
- Rinse (in addition to the overnight soaking) the pieces of cod under cold water.
- Place the cod in a large pot and cover the cod with cold water.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat and then reduce the temperature to medium. Let the cod cook for about 8 to 12 minutes or until the fish is tender and flaky.
- Reserve 1 cup of fish water and discard the rest of the water. Let the fish cool a bit.
- Carefully shred the cod and discard the bones and skin. Set the fish aside.
- Bake the shoestring fries as per the package instructions and set aside.
- Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium low heat.
- Add the onions and bay leaves to the hot oil and sauté for about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.
- Add the wine and cook for 2 more minutes, letting the wine reduce a little.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Add the shredded fish to the pot and stir.
- Add the beaten eggs, stir and cook until the eggs set (they’ll look like scrambled eggs).
- This next step can be done in the same pot if you’re pot is very large. If it’s not, continue to the next step using a very large bowl.
- Mix together the fish mixture, shoestring fries, the olives and parsley.
- Taste to see if you need any extra salt. In most cases you won’t because you cooked with salted cod.
- If the mixture is feeling a bit dry, add some of the reserved fish water and mix again.
- Move everything onto a serving platter and top with a little extra chopped fresh parsley.
- Enjoy the meal with steamed veggies or a fresh saled and don't forget the crusty bread!
- Make sure to soak the fish in water for at least 8 hours. If you don’t soak it long enough you risk the meal being too salty.
- You’ll know the fish is cooked when you touch the edge with a fork and a piece easily falls off. You want the fish to be tender and flaky.
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