Bacalhau à Brás: Cristiano Ronaldo's (and Portugal's) favourite
If you had to pick just one ingredient from the otherwise varied and fantastically tasty Portuguese cuisine, every Portuguese would probably say bacalhau, or cod.
So popular, in fact, that there are reportedly 1,000 Portuguese recipes that include cod, but as the locals say, there are at least 365 ways to make it, meaning that there is a recipe for cod every day of the year. Each region has different recipes, of which the locals are justifiably proud.
Interestingly, codfish, the iconic ingredient in Portuguese cuisine is not a fish native to Portuguese waters, but is typically sourced from Newfoundland and Norway.
The fishing and transport of cod can be traced back to the 14th century, at the beginning of the age of Portuguese explorers. From the 15th century onwards, Portuguese seafarers were fed on cod, which was salted and dried (the easiest and safest way of preserving it) so that it could be stored in ships for an almost unlimited period, and during the voyage, fresh from the ocean, to replenish the food that was running out of stock.
Thanks to the explorers and then the fishermen (and the ease of preservation, transport and storage), cod slowly infiltrated Portuguese cuisine and became once and for all the most popular ingredient.
If you enter a supermarket or any market in Portugal, you are sure to be confronted with salted and dried cod fish, either in large piles on the counter or hanging on the shelves.
The recipe below is for one of the most popular dishes, Bacalhau à Brás (although there is no precise information on its origin), from the Barrio Alto district of Lisbon, first mentioned in writing in the mid 19th century, with Brás or Bráz (as sometimes written) presumably retaining the name of its creator.
An interesting fact: Portuguese football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, said during an interview that Bacalhau à Brás is his all time favourite dish.
So even if you don't become a brilliant ball juggler, it's still worth a try as it requires no special ingredients and can be prepared in 15 minutes for a fantastic taste experience!
Don't worry if you can't find dried and salted cod at the corner shop, NAVAL's excellent canned cod is just as tasty (and authentic)!
Ingredients for 2 people:
2 cans of Naval Cod Portuguese style
1 medium red onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 potatoes (about 150 g), very finely chopped
Half a bunch of parsley
10-15 black olives
Salt and pepper
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1. Slice the potatoes lengthways and cut into very thin strips (matchstick thickness). Fry in oil or in the oven at 180° C until golden brown and set aside.
2. Cut the onion in half, then slice and strip into strands.
3. Cut the cleaned garlic cloves into thin slices.
4. Finely chop the parsley.
5. Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper.
Preparing the dish:
6. Put plenty of olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions over a low (!) heat. Careful: you don't want to caramelise it, just braise. When the onions are almost done, add the sliced garlic and fry together for a further 1-2 minutes.
7. Add the cod (pulled/cut into smaller chunks) to the onions - you can add a little oil from the can as well - and stir-fry, still on a low heat, for 5 about minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
8. Stir in the fried potatoes, being careful not to break them up too much.
9. Pour in the beaten eggs and mix. Stir for a few minutes, being careful not to over-dry the food.
10. Meanwhile, add a few whole black olives and stir in half the chopped parsley.
11. When the desired consistency has been achieved, serve: arrange the dish neatly on plates, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and garnish with black olives. You can also serve with a few slices of fresh tomato.
Eat immediately, while it's warm!
It goes well with a cold glass of vinho verde or rosé wine.
Enjoy your meal!