Bacalhau à Brás

This delicious lunch, dinner, or even brunch dish is from the classic restaurant Bota Alta, in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto district.–David Leite

Bacalhau à Brás

A copper pot of bacalhau a Bras--or Portuguese scrambled eggs, salt cod, potatoes, onions, olives, and parsley
David Leite

Prep 1 hr
Cook 15 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
4 to 6 servings
4.88 / 8 votes
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  • 1 pound dried salt cod soaked overnight and cooked
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips (about 6 cups)
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves divided
  • 18 black or green olives


  • Flake the fish, discarding any bones.
  • Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy, large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes in batches and saute until crisp and golden, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the same skillet. Add the onion and bay leaf and saute until golden, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the onion slices in the skillet. Mix in the fish and potatoes. Whisk the eggs, the 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add the egg mixture and 3 tablespoons of the parsley to the fish mixture in the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the eggs are softly set, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a platter. Garnish with the olives and the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
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Where can I find bacalhau?

Salt cod is available at Portuguese markets, Italian markets as baccalà, and at Spanish markets as bacalao.
Our favorite supplier is Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River, MA. They have amazing Norwegian salted cod, which is what I get everything I visit my mom. But if you aren’t in the South Coast region of Massachusetts, Portugalia ships.–David Leite
Cut Norge Norwegian Salted Codfish

Originally published May 10, 2007


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  1. I loved this dish when I had it in Portugal. Can it be made sign fresh cod? I have some leftover cod that was cooked on the grill.

  2. I really, really want to make this, but being a person who does not eat onions, I’m debating whether to just leave it out, or substitute something, like celery and a tiny amount of spring onions. Would the dish be anything like itself without onion?

    1. Nathaniel, I hear you when it comes to an ingredient you simply don’t like. This recipe wouldn’t be the same without some form of onion. Spring onions should work. Celery, on the other hand, doesn’t. It doesn’t figure much in Portuguese cooking.

      1. I’d agree. For a recipe with what is, really, only 5 ingredients* (salt cod, potatoes, eggs, onions, and olives), if you remove or replace one, it will make a massive difference.

        I’d definitely add garlic too. David Leite, any particular reason for leaving it out?

        *plus salt, pepper, olive oil, etc… but these are in pretty much all recipes, right? 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Never heard of this dish until I tried it at a Portuguese restaurant and then went hunting for a recipe. So glad I found yours as it’s just perfect! Thanks! I put about 2/3 of the potatoes in with the eggs then sprinkle the rest on top for some crunch! Best of both world!

    1. You’re welcome, Lucy! We’re so pleased that you tried it and loved it. Can’t wait to hear what you try next.

  4. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for Easter supper while in lockdown in South Africa. I’m Portuguese and grew up loving this dish cooked by family members. I had some leftover frozen bacalhau that I’d already prepped for Christmas so decided to make Bacalhau à Brás this time (I made Bacalhau à Gomes de Sáfor Xmas). This dish is so simple in its ingredients, yet so rich and luxurious!

    Thank you for a great easy-to-follow recipe that packed all the flavour! I complemented the dish with a quick green salad dressed with olive oil and white wine vinegar just to balance out the richness of the olive oil in the dish. Worked great together.

    P. S. I couldn’t buy normal potatoes due to lockdown with staple produce being scarce so did this with baby potatoes instead. I didn’t bother to peel them and it was a LOAD of work to matchstick them–but the taste and effect was so worth it!

      1. 5 stars
        It is not necessary to make the potatoes from scratch. Not sure where you all are, but in many countries you can but the potatoes ready to go!

        In the UK, you can buy the “potato sticks” from Tesco.

        And before you say “argh, what a cheat, typical British”, I was born in Brazil and there we use “batata palha” all the time. 🙂

        And given that Brazilian nationals have immigrated to pretty much every country of this Earth, you may be able to find a Brazilian products online supplier near you. 😉

        1. Eduardo, you’re more than correct! And in communities that have a Portuguese or Brazilian population, it’s very easy to find those potato sticks. But in many parts of America, it’s not as easy, so we offer people the option of making it themselves. Also, many of these products are made with transfats, which a lot of people don’t want to consume.

          1. Absolutely. Of course, making it from scratch is always better! I just wanted to offer an alternative to those saying this recipe takes ages to do.

            It is actually the opposite: this is historically a quick meal, done with left over saltcod (bacalhau) from the day before. And with the help of these ready-made potato sticks it becomes a 15-20 min job, not hours! 😉

            This is the beauty of the Portuguese cuisine: usually it is simple, has few ingredients but delicious.

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