Among the most important ingredients in Portuguese cuisine, cod is a highlight. One of Portugal’s most traditional dishes is Bacalhau à Brás (Cod à Brás), a classic recipe with lots of flavours, ideal to surprise family and friends.
About Bacalhau à Brás
Bacalhau à Brás is a dish that perfectly reflects Portuguese cuisine. Simple in origin and preparation, the taste of this recipe is the result of good ingredients and the appreciation of their flavours.
The original recipe for Bacalhau à Brás was created by Mr. Braz, who was the owner of a local tavern in Lisbon. The dish quickly became very popular and spread inside and outside the country. Today, for example, it is common to find variations of Bacalhau à Brás in Spain which is known as Bacalhau Dourado. Also, the dish evolved for a technique, you can find a variety of dishes made “a Brás” style.
The recipe for Bacalhau à Brás includes desalted shredded cod and straw potato. As complements, olives, eggs, onions, and parsley are added. The result is a creamy, authentic-tasting, and very easy dish.
Essential ingredients for a traditional Bacalhau à Brás recipe
- Desalted codfish: When preparing Bacalhau à Brás, the less noble parts of the codfish can be used, making it a perfect dish to take advantage of the leftovers not used in other recipes. The desalting process can be easily done at home. However, if you want to simplify the recipe, you can buy the already desalted cod.
- Straw Potatoes: In the most traditional recipes, the straw potato is homemade – which makes them much tastier. If you want to make it more practical, you can buy them ready.
- Eggs: The eggs beaten with a fouet are the great secret of the creaminess of Bacalhau à Brás. Otherwise, the dish tends to become dry.
Secrets for a perfect Bacalhau à Brás
How to desalt the cod
Those who choose to do the desalting at home should plan the process ahead. The time required varies according to the size of the portions:
- For Shredded Codfish: 6 hours (change the water every 3 hours)
- For Cod Pieces: 24-48 hours (change the water every 6 hours)
The process is always the same, first wash the cod pieces under running water. Then soak the fish in cold water and take it into the refrigerator. The skin of the codfish must be left on top. Then change the water periodically until the desired salt point is reached.
How to prepare homemade straw potatoes
If you want to prepare the traditional recipe, the big difference is to make the straw potatoes at home instead of buying them ready.
The process is quite simple and the dish is much tastier. First, cut the potatoes into very thin sticks. Next, wash the sticks in water until the excess starch is removed. Then fry in very hot oil, using a pan or fryer. Place them on paper towels to remove the excess fat and season with a little salt.
If you want to avoid excess fat, another option is to use the air fryer to prepare the potatoes or bake them in the oven.
How to make Bacalhau à Brás soft and creamy
One of the great secrets to avoiding Bacalhau à Brás becoming dry are the eggs. In many of the traditional recipes, eggs are added during the cooking of the dish. But to maintain the creaminess, one of the tips is to add only half of the eggs during cooking, and the rest only when finishing the dish. The eggs will be cooked by the remaining heat of the dish and make the Bacalhau à Brás more succulent.
Variations of Cod “à Brás” Recipe
There are many ways to make a different “a Brás” style recipe, here are some ideas:
- The codfish can be replaced by other fish, crab meat, shredded chicken or even mushrooms;
- You can use sweet potato or cassava instead of potato;
- Besides the codfish, shrimp can be added to the recipe;
- To make the recipe even creamier, one option is to add heavy cream during preparation.
How to serve Bacalhau à Brás
Like most typical Portuguese codfish dishes, Bacalhau à Brás is a complete meal, despite being very simple to prepare. All that is needed to accompany it is white rice and a green salad.
Check out the recipe and learn how to make Bacalhau à Brás
Bacalhau à Brás – Authentic and Easy
- 600 g desalted codfish
- 200 g straw potato
- 6 eggs
- 1 onion - sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- black olives
- olive oil
- parsley - chopped
- black pepper
Cook and shred the codfish:
- Take a pan of water, bay leaves, and 2 cloves of garlic to boil;
- As soon as it boils, add the codfish;
- When it boils again, turn off the heat and set it aside for 15 minutes;
- Remove the cod from the water and let it cool;
- Once cooled, remove the skin and bones and shred the cod.
Prepare the Bacalhau à Brás:
- Heat a frying pan over low heat in olive oil and saute the onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic;
- Add the shredded cod and cook for a few minutes;
- Add the potatoes, mixing carefully;
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the help of a fouet;
- Add half of the beaten eggs to the codfish stew, mixing well;
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste and let the eggs cook, always stirring the mixture;
- Turn off the heat and mix in the rest of the eggs;
- Sprinkle the dish with parsley and black olives;
- Serve it hot.