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
500 gram (1 lb) salt cod fillets,
½ to ¾ cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
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
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.
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