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In Portugal “Bacalhau”… Salted Cod is King

Atualizado: 23 de nov. de 2023

There is actually a different recipe for every single day to enjoy all year round… 

It is not easy to explain why a Nordic fish became the King of Portuguese cuisine… But here goes my best conclusion…

It's like imagining if Norwegians had 1000 ways to cook sardines… But what captivated the Portuguese, besides the flavor, was its easy conservation.

Cod held up better on long sea voyages than many of the best sailors. Nowadays, there is no good Portuguese restaurant where this fish cannot be found, but with so many recipes it is difficult to know which is what.

Here are my 10 favorite dishes with cod to choose from, as well as ingredients and preparation mode, so you don't get stuck in cod waters… lol

Be sure to let me know which is Your favorite!!!

We will start with the most famous one, which happens to me my favorite, Bacalhau à Brás… 

Bacalhau à Brás – O Famoso

Bacalhau à Brás is a typical Portuguese cod dish. Being one of the most popular dishes made with this fish, it consists of shredded cod, fried straw potatoes, thinly sliced ​​fried onion, scrambled egg, olives and chopped parsley. The excellent flavor depends on the relationship of the components of the recipe, mainly the amount of onion in relation to the cod and the oil used to make this dish.


Cod 400 g

Olive oil 6 tablespoon

Straw fries 500 g

Eggs 6

Onions 3

1 clove of garlic

Parsley to taste

Salt q.s.

Black pepper q.s.

Olives to taste


Soak the cod as usual, remove the skin and bones and shred it with your hands. Cut the onions into very thin slices. Chop the garlic. Bring a thick-bottomed pan to the heat with the oil, onion and garlic and let it cook slowly until the onion is cooked. At this point, add the shredded cod and stir with a spoon so that it is well impregnated with the olive oil.

Add the thin straw potatoes to the cod and, with the pan over the heat, add the eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Stir with a fork and, as soon as the eggs are creamy but cooked, immediately remove the pan from the heat and place the cod on a platter.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot with olives.

Bacalhau com Natas – O Guloso

Bacalhau com natas is a popular way of cooking salted cod in Portugal. This dish consists of oven-roasted cod layered with onion, diced fried potatoes (or leftover cooked potatoes and cream, generally seasoned with nutmeg and white pepper.

This is a simple dish to prepare and very popular both at home and in restaurants. Since you don't have to use as much cod, it can be a way to use up leftover cod or make a cod dish for more people.

The origin of the dish is unclear, it may have been conceived by the Conde da Guarda (due to there being a similar recipe called Bacalhau a Conde da Guarda or created and popularized by chef João Ribeiro in the 1930’s.


1 pack. of Shredded Cod Ready to Cook

4 large potatoes

100 ml of olive oil

2 large onions

2 garlic cloves

50 g of butter

50 g of flour

200 ml of milk

2 packets of cream

Salt q.s.

Black pepper q.s.

75 g grated parmesan cheese

Lettuce q.s.

Preparation Method


Nothing better than a traditional recipe. Try this Cod with cream recipe… Ready to Cook???

Cook the cod in water for 10 minutes after boiling. Drain, reserving 150 ml of the cod cooking water.

Peel the potatoes, cut into small cubes and fry until lightly browned.

Soften the sliced ​​onions and chopped garlic in olive oil. Add the cod chips and fried potato cubes. Engage.

For the béchamel sauce… Over low heat, melt the butter, add the flour and mix very well until it becomes a paste. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Little by little, add the cod cooking water, milk and 1 packet of cream and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk (to avoid lumps), until it thickens and becomes creamy. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir.

Add the béchamel to the onion, cod and potato mixture. Add half a packet of cream and mix well.

Grease a baking tray with butter, add the cod and cream mixture, cover with the remaining package of cream, spreading it well, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.

Serve with lettuce salad.

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá – O Caseiro

Some traditional culinary dishes are named after their creators… This is the case of cod à Gomes de Sá, a traditional Portuguese recipe for this fish, created by José Luís Gomes de Sá Júnior, who was born in Porto on February 7, 1851, and who died in 1926. A cod dealer, he based his business in a warehouse on Rua do Muro dos Bacalhoeiros, in Ribeira do Porto, having sold the recipe to his colleague and best friend João, chef at Restaurante Lisbonense, located in Travessa dos Congregados, in the city of Porto. The original recipe proposes that the cod be cut into small chips, softened in milk for around an hour and a half to two hours and cooked with olive oil, garlic, onion, accompanied by black olives, parsley and boiled eggs.

This is a dish originating and typical of the city of Porto, which is the capital of the Northern region of Portugal, much appreciated for its flavor and refinement, normally accompanied with red Vinho Verde or red Douro Wine. It is simple and relatively quick to prepare.

Because it is highly appreciated, it is a dish that also has an impact throughout the Portuguese territory, as well as in Brazil, thanks to post-colonial Portuguese immigration, especially after the mid-19th century, brought with them their rich gastronomy, so much so that this and other Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) dishes are consumed and greatly appreciated in Brazil (where olive oil is also a ubiquitous component in these cod gastronomic recipes), such as cultural heritage of the towns in the North of Portugal that remained, until contemporary times, in Brazil. 

For this reason, the Consul of Brazil in Porto, in 1988, João Frank da Costa, decided to pay homage to the creator of the recipe, José Luís Gomes de Sá Júnior, by ordering a plaque to be placed on the wall of the house where he was born, on Rua do Muro dos Bacalhoeiros. In several markets in Brazil, cod is sold as Bacalhau do Porto, due to this story related to Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, which often confuses people, who end up thinking that cod is fished in Porto.

Gomes de Sá cod was one of the finalists for the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy, which reveals its great importance for Portuguese cuisine, as well as its gastronomic value in Portugal.


Soaked cod fillets


garlic cloves


boiled eggs

olive oil q.s.

salsa q.b.

black olives to taste

skimmed milk q.s.


Gomes de Sá was a merchant in the city of Porto at the end of the 19th century. This cod recipe is due to him, which was created with the same ingredients (with the exception of milk) with which, every week, he used to make the cod cakes that delighted his friends. In fact, the ingredients are the same, but the recipe is the result of more careful and refined preparation, eliminating the flour, poaching the cod in milk, enhancing the taste with sliced ​​browned onion and boiling the egg. Mixing the various elements with olive oil and putting them in the oven to homogenize the flavors created a new dish… “Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá”.

The quality of this recipe is largely due to the quality of the ingredients involved, which must be carefully selected for their organic quality. You should choose good quality garlic, potatoes, onions, parsley and olives: homemade or from organic farming, slow growing. As well as eggs from homemade chickens or organic farming. You should also choose skimmed milk and not semi-skimmed or full-fat milk, so as not to be cloying, when softening the cod chips. And, above all, the cod (which must always be Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua) with thick slices, slow salting and yellow curing) and the olive oil must be of very good quality to obtain the original flavor of the recipe, which has been distorted in recent decades, by the vast majority of restaurants, with recipes that deviate from the original and/or that use ingredients with little organic quality. Many of these recipes, which deviate from the original, are also advertised in the mass media and on social networks, which leads the common consumer to confuse these false recipes with the original by José Luís Gomes de Sá.

Preparation, according to the original recipe by José Luís Gomes de Sá Júnior:

"Take the soaked cod and put it in a pan. Then, cover everything with boiling water, and then cover it with a thick baize or a piece of blanket and leave it, like that, without boiling, for 20 minutes. Then, from the cod that is in the pan and which must be 2 kilos weighed raw, remove all the bones and cut into flakes and place in a deep dish, covering it. with hot milk, leaving it to infuse for an hour and a half to two hours. Then, in an oven-proof dish, pour three deciliters of the finest olive oil (this is essential), four cloves of garlic and eight onions to brown. Already have two kilos of potatoes (cut separately, with skin) which have been skinned and cut into slices one centimeter thick and the potatoes plus the slivers of the cod, which are removed from the milk. They are then placed in the same dish, in the oven, letting everything boil for ten to fifteen minutes. Served, on the same dish, with large black olives, very good, and plus a bunch of very chopped parsley and slices of boiled egg. It should be served very hot, very hot."

The recipe is taken from a manuscript, attributed to José Luís Gomes de Sá himself, who would have sold the recipe to his colleague and friend, João, chef at Restaurante Lisbonense, located in Travessa dos Congregados, in the city of Porto, with the delicious note: "John, if you change anything, you will no longer be able to do so." The warning that "It must be served very hot, very hot" must also always, without fail, be followed, for the dish to be of quality.

Normally, this dish is accompanied with red Vinho Verde or red Douro Wine, understood as the wines most compatible with this cod dish originating from the city of Porto, which is the capital of the Northern region of Portugal.

Bacalhau Espiritual – O Poupado

Bacalhau Espiritual is a traditional cod dish in Portuguese cuisine.

The recipe was created in 1947 by the Countess of Almeida Araújo, at the National Palace of Queluz. Inspired by French cuisine, in particular the brandade chaude de morue dish, the Countess created this and other dishes when the "Cozinha Velha" restaurant, located in the Palace, opened. According to the work Tesouros da Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa, it is considered one of the “most appreciated specialties of Old Cuisine”.


500g soaked cod without skin or bones

1lt milk

2 carrots

1 large onion

Olive oil q.s.

2 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

50g butter

50g wheat flour

Salt and pepper q.s.

Nutmeg q.s.

2 dry puffs

4 egg yolks

Island cheese q.b.

Breadcrumbs q.s.


1. Turn the oven on to 180ºC.

2. Place the butter in a small pan, add the flour and let it cook a little.

3. From 1 liter of hot milk, remove 800ml and gradually add it to the pan. Reserve the remaining 200ml.

4. Cook over medium low heat, while stirring.

5. Add the dried crops to the milk that was left aside and let it rest.

6. Peel the onion and slice it.

7. Saute the onion in a good drizzle of olive oil and add the bay leaf.

8. While browning, peel the carrots and grate them with a coarse grater.

9. When the onion is translucent, add the garlic cloves crushed with the crusher.

10. Add the carrot.

11. Sauté a little and add the shredded cod. Turn off about 5 minutes later.

12. Add the drained and crumbled dry crops and mix well.

13. When the béchamel is thicker, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and turn off the heat.

14. Place the egg yolks in a bowl, season with a little béchamel and mix.

15. Pour the egg yolks into the béchamel pan while stirring well to combine without the yolks cooking.

16. Remove the bay leaves from the cod and season with a little salt and pepper.

17. Add half the béchamel and mix well.

18. Place on an oven tray, spread well and place the remaining béchamel on top.

19. Sprinkle with island cheese and breadcrumbs.

20. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes

It is usually served with a fresh salad.

Bacalhau à Lagareiro – O Escorregadio

Bacalhau à Lagareiro, roasted cod, accompanied by “batata à murro” is a traditional dish from Beira Litoral, Portugal, although it also has an origin in Minho and in Trás-os-Montes.

It is thought to have originated in the mills, and may have been created by olive workers (lagareiros), who watered the cod with new olive oil produced in the autumn.

According to the work Tesouros da Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa, popular tradition states that the recipe was invented by the owner of a mill located near Viseu, who cooked cod in a large quantity of fresh olive oil, adding small potatoes.

Originally made only with salted cod and breaded with hard, crumbled bread, and savored with raw or roasted garlic, the recipe was added with Batata a Murro, an ingredient introduced in Portugal during the Age of Discoveries.

There is also a version with octopus, octopus à lagareiro.

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 soaked cod fillets

650 g of potatoes to bake with skin

250 ml of olive oil

1 large onion cut into half-moon slices

8 sliced ​​garlic cloves

4 bay leaves

Salt and 5 pepper mix

Chopped fresh coriander


1. In a baking tray, preferably clay, put a little olive oil on the bottom.

Add the wet potatoes and season them with a little salt and pepper.

Mix very well and add a little more salt and pepper so that they are seasoned evenly.

2. Place in a preheated oven at 200ºC and bake for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the remaining oil, onion and bay leaves.

Stir and let it heat up well.

4. When the onion starts to soften, add the sliced ​​garlic and let it heat up slightly.

Remove from heat and set aside.

5. After the time has passed, remove the potatoes from the oven.

Mash the potatoes lightly with a fork and spread them around the tray.

6. In the center of the tray, place 1/3 of the stew at the bottom.

On top, place the cod fillets and cover everything with the remaining sautéed mixture.

Finally, season the cod fillets with the mixture of 5 peppers.

7. Place back in the oven, maintaining 200ºC.

Let it bake for another 25 minutes.

8. After the time has passed and when the cod is cooked, remove it from the oven

and finally, sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Preparation time: 1 hour… ENJOY!!!

Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo – O Empadão

Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo, literally translated Bacalhau à la Zé do Pipo, is a common codfish (cod) dish in Portugal. It is an oven baked dish, consisting in layers of cod (previously boiled in milk), onion (or pickles), mashed potatoes with a hint of ground nutmeg, and mayonnaise. 

Although mayonnaise is not traditionally used in Portuguese cuisine, in this dish it's considered typical. It is usually garnished with olives and/or peppers. 

The recipe originates from Porto, having achieved popularity in Vizela, being named after its creator, Zé do Pipo, who owned a famous restaurant in that city during the 1960’s. He won a national gastronomic contest with this main course, making many restaurants adopt it in their menus and popularizing it across the country to this day.


2 Cod steaks

800 gr Potatoes

300 ml Milk

2 c. butter soup

2 Onions

3 cloves of Garlic

1 bay leaf

10 pitted black olives

Q.b. Nutmeg

Q.b. Salt and pepper

For the Mayonnaise:

2 eggs size M

2 garlic cloves

1 c. lemon soup

200 ml Oil

200 ml Olive Oil

Q.b. salt


1. Place 800g of peeled potatoes and cut into small pieces in a pan with water, season with salt and cook for around 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook 2 cod fillets in a pan with 300 ml of milk for 5 to 7 minutes.

3. When the potato is cooked, it's time to crush it until you get a puree.

4. Gradually add part of the milk you used to cook the cod, season with nutmeg, add 2 tablespoons of butter and beat until silky.

5. Then transfer the puree to a pastry bag and set aside.

6. Then, cut 2 onions into slices and place them in a frying pan with olive oil.

7. Also add 3 chopped garlic cloves, salt, 1 bay leaf, pepper, and the milk left over from cooking the cod.

8. While the onion cooks, make garlic mayonnaise.

9. Break a whole egg and one yolk into a glass, add 2 grated garlic cloves, salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon.

10. Gradually add 200ml of oil and 200ml of olive oil, while blending everything with the blender.

11. With the mayonnaise ready, turn on the oven at 200ºC and place everything on a tray: the cod in the center, the onion and garlic on top, and the puree around it.

12. Then use another piping bag to cover everything with mayonnaise, and add pitted black olives, before placing in the oven to brown for 15 minutes.

13. In the end, enjoy this dish that travels throughout the country, but maintains its Northern pronunciation.

Bacalhau à Minhota – O Dourado

Bacalhau à MinhotaMinho-style cod, is a typical culinary dish from the Alto Minho region, in northern Portugal.

It consists of cod fillets sprinkled with pepper and fried in oil. In the same oil, potatoes cut into thick slices are fried. Finally, thin slices of onion are slowly fried in olive oil and placed on top of the cod before serving. The final dish can be garnished with olives and accompanied by green sprouts (grelos).


Cod Loin 1 unit

Onions 4 pcs

Green/Red Peppers 1 unit

White Skin Potatoes 3 units

Vegetable Oil 1L

Parsley 1 bunch

Garlic 4 Cloves

White Wine 200ml

Wheat Flour 500g

Olive oil 200ml

White wine vinegar 50ml

Pepper 1 pinch

Black Pepper 1 pinch

Salt to taste

Lemon Juice tablespoon



1 – Onion:

– Cut onion along the grain, julienned green and red peppers and sliced ​​garlic and chop parsley stems.

– In a pan, start the sauté with the parsley stalks and then add the previous ingredients until softened, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.

– Increase the heat until the onions and peppers start to caramelize and then cool with white wine.

– Let the alcohol evaporate and finish with a touch of vinegar, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

2 – Sliced ​​Potato Fries:

– wash and peel the potatoes, then cut into thin slices (2-3 mm), place in a bowl with water and salt.

– Drain the potatoes well until as much water as possible is removed – Heat the oil to 180º and fry the potatoes, never adding more potatoes at once to avoid cooling the oil

– Place the fries on absorbent paper to remove excess oil

3- Cod Loin:

– Dry the cod well and then coat it in flour.

– Remove excess flour and fry the cod in very hot oil or olive oil until the flour browns.

– Place the cod on a platter with the onion on top and bake at 180º for about 10 minutes.


Serve the cod and onion on the oven-baked dish and finish with fried potatoes around the fish until it is practically covered and finally fresh parsley leaves.

Bacalhau Cozido – O Familiar

One of the most traditional codfish dishes that relies on the quality of its ingredients and that we often serve on festive days, when we get together with the family, is the famous boiled Cod cooked with all the fixings.

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 cod fillet fillets

4 eggs

4 potatoes

4 carrots

4 heads of turnips

1 bunch of greens

Olive oil q.s.

Wine vinegar q.s. optional

Salt and black pepper q.s.


1. Cook the cod in flavored water (flavor the water with 1/4 of an onion, one to two cloves of garlic, a few stalks of aromatic herbs – such as parsley, and a bay leaf. Drizzle with a drizzle of olive oil).

2. Put a pan of water on the heat with a pinch of salt and a little vinegar. When it boils, add the eggs and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Cook the potatoes with the turnip heads and halved carrots in a pan in salted water.

4. Cook the greens. After cooking, drain well.

5. Serve, on a platter, the vegetables with the eggs, greens and cod fillets.

6. On the plate, season with pepper to taste, oil and vinegar.

Pastéis de Bacalhau – O Mata-Bicho

Pastéis de bacalhau, or cod pastries, are a specialty of Portuguese cuisine, and are also very popular in Angola and Brazil.

In the center and south of Portugal they are known as pastéis de bacalhau (cod pastries), and in the north, bolinhos de bacalhau (cod cakes).

The pastel de bacalhau was one of the finalists for the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy.

Ingredients for 24 units:

700g Potatoes

500g Cod boiled and cleaned of skin and bones

4 Eggs

1 Bunch of parsley

1 Onion


Olive oil (to fry)


1 - Cut the potatoes in half, wash and cook in boiling water, seasoned with salt, for 20 minutes.

2 - Drain the water and reduce them to puree.

3 - Place the cod on a cloth, close the cloth and shred the cod very well.

4 - Add it to the mashed potatoes, add the peeled and very finely chopped onion, as well as the chopped parsley and eggs, one by one, stirring constantly.

5 - Check the salt, add a pinch of pepper and stir.

6 - Using 2 tablespoons, shape the pastries and fry them in hot olive oil until golden.

7 - Remove, let drain and serve warm or cold.

Bacalhau Assado – O Tradicional

Bacalhau assado na brasa, grilled cod, is a traditional dish of Portuguese cuisine, being a common way of cooking dried cod.

This dish is consumed throughout Portugal, with small variations depending on the region and family. The dish is also widely consumed in Brazil, where it is called grilled cod with punched potatoes.

The name punched potatoes (batata à murro) comes from using new potatoes with the skin on, so after being boiled or roasted you only need to give them a little punch to open them and then they are tender and can be well seasoned with olive oil.


The following recipe is common in several areas of Ribatejo, usually made during the "new olive oil" season, towards the end of autumn.

Roast the cod over coals and the potatoes on a tray, in the oven or over the coals, together with the unpeeled onions.

When everything is ready, chop the cod into a bowl or bowl, punch the potatoes to open them, and peel the roasted onions and cut them in half. Add everything to the cod.

Season with finely chopped garlic, a little black pepper and vinegar, and lots of new olive oil. Mix well and accompany with mixed bread or cornbread.

Not that you are no longer in cod waters, be sure to let me know which is Your favorite!!!

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