Sunday, 17 March 2013

Portuguese Salt Cod Stew


One night last week, Nigel volunteered to cook dinner and he decided that he wanted to use salt cod, or bacalhau as they call it in Portugal. He had been talking about this dish for several weeks, so when we saw some salt cod in the supermarket, he was well and truly hooked, pun intended! It seems to be widely available and used around the Mediterranean, but we are not sure if it can be bought elsewhere in the world.


Portuguese Salt Cod Stew

Ingredients
500 gram (1 lb) salt cod fillets,
½ to ¾  cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
Milk
2 large onions
500 gram (1 lb) potatoes
3 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
About 40 pitted black olives
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons capers

Method
Rinse the fillets well and then soak in water for at least 12 hours, changing the water 3 or 4 times. We left them in the fridge overnight.  Make sure all skin and any bones are removed. After the soaking process, the cod should taste  very slightly salty. If there is no salt taste, you will need to add a little salt back.

Put the cod in a saucepan and just cover with milk, or milk and water mixed, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove the fish and set aside. Do not throw away the liquid that the fish was cooked in.

Parboil the potatoes for 20 minutes, using the liquid from the fish; when cooked but still firm, remove them from the liquid and cut into 1 centimetre (1/4 inch) slices.

Generously coat the base of a large overproof dish with oil, then place a layer of sliced onions followed by a layer of sliced potato.

Break up the fish and place half the fish on top of the potato, pour another generous amount of oil over the fish and sprinkle all with freshly grated pepper. Scatter one tablespoon of capers over the fish then repeat another layer of onions, potatoes, fish, capers and some more olive oil.

Finish off with a layer of onions and potatoes, on the top of this place the sliced hard boiled eggs, the olives and some more oil.

Place in oven 180°C (350°F) and cook, covered, for 40 minutes.
Serve with a salad or vegetables of your choice.
Serves 4

This dish was unusual and quite delicious - the cod has an amazing flavour, heightened by the capers.  We will certainly be buying some more salt cod and I will be taking a night off from the kitchen again :-)

The salt cod  soaking in water







See also - My Life Before Charente Updated 17/03/2013

and my daily photo diary  HERE
http://photodiarydps.blogspot.com 


82 comments:

  1. I am not the biggest fish lover but even i would try this. I might even make it. What is. Strange is that hard boiled eggs go on top. Very interesting and by the looks of it very delicious.

    Red

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    1. Boye By Red I found it quite a strange combination but the flavours went so well together, and because the onion was not cooked previously it was still crunchy which was in fact very nice. Have a good week Diane

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  2. this looks terrific. i can get slat cod here easily!

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    1. Jaz it was very good, it seems that salt cad is fairly widely available but we were not sure. Take care Diane

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  3. Dried fish is very much sold here esp. in Chinatown. I wouldn't know what fish is what and it is difficult to converse with the shop keepers who mainly speak a version of Chinese.

    Nigel did a great job. I think retirement allows people to do things they didn't have much time before like creating new meals. If he expands his repertoire you can take more time off from the kitchen, lol.

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    1. Joyful Nigel also makes the most wonderful Boeuf Bourguignon but it takes him a long time and there seems to be a lot of washing up afterwards! Never the less it is worth it as the result is the best. Take care and I will try to see if I can pass comments on your site again. Diane

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  4. I love this dish as well as "brandade de more". How nice to have Nigel cook. I bet you could get used to it.

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    1. Nadege I will have a look at brandade de more and see if he can try that as well. I can definitely get used to Nigel spending more time in the kitchen! Have a good week Diane

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  5. Good for Nigel, finding something unusual and delicious to cook! I've had salt cod, and I guess I didn't soak it long enough, because it was way too salty for me to tolerate. Have a nice week, Diane.

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    1. Marjie I think it really has to be soaked well with several changes of water. I never cook with salt so I would have definitely tasted it if the salt had been strong and it wasn't. It was an interesting and very nice dish. Take care Diane

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  6. We love salt cod and have served it in quite a few ways at our Bistro Des Copains. So yes, it is quite readily available here in the US, much of it comes from Newfoundland. We have served salt cod beignets, brandade, and right now we are serving a salt cod salad that is very popular.

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    1. Michel I like the idea of a salt cod salad, that would be good in the summer which we hope will soon arrive! At the moment it never stops raining. I will also look at the brandade as well. Keep well Diane

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  7. I'm very fond of salt cod, although quite a few people I know seem to think I'm crazy for liking it. I've never used it in a dish with capers and hard boiled eggs and that sounds a fine combination to me. Salt cod can be a little tricky to find in England although Italian and West Indian shops often sell it.

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    1. Phil, Nigel said he had not seen it in the UK, but then I doubt if he was ever looking for it when he was there! This was a particularly good dish and I liked the crunchiness of the onions because they had not been cooked previously. Keep well Diane

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  8. This looks lovely Diane. Salted fish has always scared me so thanks for explaining how to prepare it.

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    1. Craig this was an excellent introduction to salt cod, I think the trick though is to make sure it is soaked well and several changes of water. Nigel found it very easy to prepare and he does not do a lot of cooking so I am sure you would find it very simple. Enjoy Diane

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  9. That looks absolutely delicious, Diane!
    Well done Nigel - I should definitely send him into the kitchen more often if I were you.
    (I'm guessing that the beans were from your freezer.)

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    1. Jean I am very keen that Nigel spends time in the kitchen especially if he produces meals like that! The beans were in fact not from the freezer though we have lots bottled, I had no freezer space last year and I still haven't! Lidl have been selling very large bags of beans for 99 cents so we could not miss a chance like that :-) When are you coming over? It just keeps raining here at the moment and we are fed up with it! Take care diane

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  10. Sounds and looks delicious, even though I am not a lover of olives. x

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    1. Karen, Nigel used to hate olives. I kept telling him that it was a matter of taste and he could train his taste buds. I also did not used to like them when I was much younger so I knew it could be done. It worked and after a few pulled faces he started to acquire the taste for certain olives not he likes them all pretty much so long as they are not too bitter. Have a good week Diane

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  11. Hi Diane .. it looks lovely - I had some 'relatives' in South Africa and he being Portuguese always used to cook it - and I loved it ...

    I've never done it myself - but your dish looks absolutely delicious ...

    This brings back all sorts of memories ... have a happy week ... and you can get salted cod here ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary this is a dish we will certainly have again it was light and so tasty, we really enjoyed it. Glad I brought back some good memories. Take it easy and have a good week Diane

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  12. What a great find. Well done Nigel. I too would have bought it although I don't think I've ever tasted salt cod, but I've certainly read about it.
    Sam

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    1. Sam it is great to have Nigel in the kitchen from time to time, it gives me a nice break :-)
      If you should see salt cod I highly recommend this dish so give it a try. Have a good week Diane

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  13. That sounds different but I would like t try it. next time i'm in France I'll call in for some.

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    1. diane b you do that, I will have Nigel on the ready to do the cooking when you arrive :-) Have a great week Diane

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  14. Diane, this is so popular here in Sicily. We call it Baccalà, and it's made with potatoes only. I personally don't eat fish, and when I was a child they would serve it to us kids in kindergarten and I would never eat. This is my memory of kindergarten. Finally my mother took me out, I just didn't want to go. Have a nice week!

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    1. Francesca I can imagine if you do not like fish trying to make you eat it as a child is not good. We both love fish and would eat it in preference to meat any time. You have a good week also. Take care Diane

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  15. I've never had salt cod. This dish looks tasty & unique.

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    1. Pam it was the first time we have had it as well, we will though certainly have it again. :-) Have a good week. Diane

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  16. Funnily enough I saw some salt cod on Saturday and wondered whether to buy some, but I've never cooked with it so flaked out (as it were).

    If I can soak it during the day I could cook it in the evening which would be fine. Not sure my boys would go for the capers, but I could do a brandade de morue which is similar just without the capers, eggs and olives, and mashed. :)

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    1. Sarah I would not soak it for less that 24 hours as I think it would be too salty otherwise. Enjoy Diane

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  17. When you get a craving. There is only one thing to do.....satisfying it! Looks it is just what you did.

    Velva

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    1. Velva it was definitely satisfying and it will be cooked again. Have a great week Diane

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  18. J'en mangerai avec plaisir.
    A bientôt

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    1. Merci Nadji, il faisait tres délicieux, Bonne journée, Diane

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  19. Looks delicious. For me it would be 'sans olives'.

    How wonderful to have a partner who cooks more than beans on toast!! :o)

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    1. Gaynor Nigel used to hate olives and I told him if he tried hard enough he could acquire a taste for them. It took a while but it eventually worked as it did for me many years back. I really appreciate Nigel getting out into the kitchen, generally once a week. Usually it is pasta but he occasionally makes something exciting as he did here. Have a good week. Diane

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  20. I'd love to have a man that cooks! Lucky you! That dish looks so colorful and full of textures. Lovely!

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    1. Betsy he usually does a stint in the kitchen about once a week so I get a break. Generally it is a pasta dish but occasionally he breaks out into something stunning like this. Have a good day Diane

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  21. I love everything in that dish but I am not sure that salt cod can be purchased where I live. In my kitchen, we have to have extra olives for snacking while we cook!

    Bises,
    Genie

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    1. Genie I was not sure if we would find salt cod here but once we looked almost all the supermarkets had it. Half the bottle of olives went into the dish while we eat the others!
      Bonne journée.
      Bises,
      Diane

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  22. Bravo to Nigel, it looks like a delightful dinner!

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    1. The Café Sucré Farine, he did an excellent job of this dish so he now has no excuse to to spend more time in the kitchen :-) Have a good day, Diane

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  23. Looks delicious! We have bacalao (Spanish spelling) here and my husband absolutely loves it, being Spanish. It's something he really missed when we lived in England. I prefer it fresh and will never forget the one I cooked on the beach in Southwold, directly from a fisherman. It was the most perfect thing ever! Axxx

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    1. Annie I can just imagine fresh fish cooked on the beach, beautiful. The only time I have ever eaten seafood on the beach was in Phuket and that was amazing. Have a good day packing :-) Diane

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  24. What a lovely recipe, Diane. We can get salt code here in Oregon, but it is pricey. That makes me smile because when I was a child it was considered a throw away fish used only by penny pinchers. I had many a salt cod cake as a child. I actually loved them and look forward to giving your recipe a try. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Mary it surprises me how much fish has gone up here, nothing is very cheap any more! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as it really was very tasty. Take care Diane

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  25. Men in the kitchen...the results are always good...and I try not to think about the amount of pans that have been used....
    Salt cod is on sale here from before the beginning of Lent and in the run up to Holy Week when the more traditionally minded eschew meat for fish it goes out of the stores in bulk, together with tinned sardines and tinned seafood of all kinds - though oddly enough fresh fish sales don't seem to change. A friend here tells me this is because again traditionally it is thought 'inappropriate' to cook in Holy Week - though how they stock up on enough rice and beans for the period if that is the case is beyond me.
    In my first village in France salt cod was the traditional dish for Ash Wednesday and the commune put on a salt cod evening every year - they provided the fish, sauce and potatoes and you brought your bread, starter and pud. Wine too was on the commune.
    You are right, given enough time to soak out the salt there is no problem...we are 'no salt' people so we too would notice it!

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    1. Fly we have not used salt in cooking for years, I use herbs and spices instead. Having said that on the rare occasion when we have chips we do have salt, somehow chips do not seem right with out a little salt! That sounds a great idea for the commune and a good get together. This dish will definitely be on the menu again and a good reason for me to have a night off :-) Keep well you two Diane

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  26. Hooo, that recipe sounds right up my street! Bookmarked and I'm doing that this weekend for sure.

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    1. Fripouille, I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did. Bon appetit. Have a good day. Diane

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  27. Do you know I have no idea if it is available in the UK but it certainly is in Italy.

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    1. Linda thanks for taking the time out to leave a comment when I know you have so much on your mind at present. Nigel also said he did not really know about salt cod in the UK though he said he did not remember seeing it. On the other hand if you are not looking for something you may not notice it! Take Care and I hope that all is going as planned for you two. Diane

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  28. DEAR DIANE, IT IS AVAILABLE HERE IN CHILE ESPECIALLY THE WEEKS BEFORE EASTER, IT IS A TRADITION TO PREPARE SALT COD ON THAT WEEK, MY MOTHER USED TO COOK IT WITH GARBANZOS, CHICK PEAS. I AM QUITE FOND OF IT, AS OF ALL FISHES, BUT I HAVE'NT YET BOUGHT IT THIS YEAR. I THINK WE WILL LIKE YOUR RECIPE VERY MUCH, I LOVE OLIVES WITH FISH, WHOLE OLIVES OR TAPENADE GOES GREAT WITH THEM. TAKE CARE AND THANKS FOR A GREAT RECIPE

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    1. Pamela,Not sure that I have ever had olives with fish before but it certainly will not be the last time! Take care and have a good day Diane

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  29. This sounds and looks terrific. I know that your dish is something my husband would enjoy.

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    1. backroadjournal I have to say Nigel made a brilliant job of this, it was unusual and very, very tasty. Take care Diane

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  30. You've made a great job of this as a photo project Diane! I'm very impressed! I won't be trying the recipe, however, as I don't like olives!

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    1. Thanks Richard. Olives is something neither of us used to like but we both forced the issue and eventually acquired the taste for them. We both love them now :-) Keep well Diane

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  31. That looks really delicious, good job Nigel!

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    1. Rose he cooks very well when he puts his mind to it, I am hoping he will do it more often :-) Have a good day Diane

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  32. I love salt cod and never eat it enough. It's so easy and you can have it on hand without taking up freezer space. Makes for one great stew... Well done!

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    1. lostpastremembered, your salt cod is obviously dried which is what I expected and what I looked for. Here it is fresh salted cod and not dried! It took a while to find it in a place we did not expect! It is very good though and we bought some more today. Take care Diane

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  33. I think I have seen some salt cod in the ethnic markets around Atlanta. Next time I’ll buy some and try your recipe. It does look and sound delicious.

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    1. Vagabonde I was really impressed with this dish and it was so easy after the 24 hour soak. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Take care Diane

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  34. I always see salt cod at the specialty markets, but never know what to do with it - this looks delicious Diane!

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    1. Peggy this was a really yummy dish and if you like fish I highly recommend it. Have a good weekend. Diane

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  35. Looks great and more importantly, you enjoyed time together doing it.
    Leon

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    1. Leon, Nigel did this all on his own with no help from me at all. It was not done together at all. He did a great job. We have some more salt cod for him to make another one over the weekend :-) Take care you two. D & N

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  36. Good for Nigel! It looks and sounds delicious! Salt cod is not available here, as far as I know, but this would be a great dish to try, if it were. Lucky for you, Diane, that your hubby likes to cook! Mine does, but only during the summer grilling season. Take care.

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    1. Pam N is getting more and more inspired I think to cook, I am delighted :-) Have a good week Diane

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  37. Codfish is a must-eat in Portugal. It is said there are 1.000 ways of cooking it and the funny thing is there is no such fish in our waters, it comes from the nothern seas! :-)

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    1. JM it is strange that it is so popular where it can not be fished! The problem is the cod is getting less and less so we all need to eat different kinds of fish! Take care Diane

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  38. Replies
    1. Gloria it was that and everything always tastes better when I do not have to cook it LOL. Have good day Diane

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  39. Replies
    1. Jean it is on the menu for dinner tonight, see you around 18h30. Have a great week,

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  40. Looks great!
    We love salt cod (bacalao) and we eat it, here, the weeks before Easter.

    Have a wonderful day Diane!
    Z.

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    1. Kitchen Stories, well it seems like we are eating it at the right time, just before Easter, it is on the menu for tonight again. Have a good week Diane

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  41. Nice that you have someone who likes to cook... looks like he is pretty good at it too. Dish looks amazing... not a big fan of seafood, except prawns, but this looks inviting.

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    1. Karen we love all sea food and we could both happily live on it but this dish was very special. Nigel is in the kitchen again a I type getting the dish ready again for tonight. Have a wonderful week. Diane

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