There’s an old adage that says the Portuguese have one thousand ways to cook bacalhau, or salted dried cod. And few countries have such a passion for the fish. Bacalhau is one of the most important foods of maritime Portugal and has fed the nation for the past five hundred years. It all began when, following in the footsteps of the Vikings and then the Basques, Portuguese sailors travelled to the cool northern waters of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, where cod was plentiful. There they would salt and dry the fish and bring the provisions home. This delicious recipe brings a modern twist to this classic ingredient.–Chef Antelmo Faria
Portuguese Salt Cod Hash
1 H, 15 M
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At least 24 hours prior to preparing the dish, rinse the cod well to remove any surface salt, then soak it in a large bowl with plenty of water, changing the water several times during the 24 hours. When ready to begin the recipe, drain and rinse the salt cod again.
Fill a bowl with cold water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, slip the cod into the pot, and cook until it flakes easily, about 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Remove the fish from water with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.
When cool, remove the fish from the bowl, pat it dry with paper towels, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan with high sides, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 365°F (185°C). Add the potato cubes and fry until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to paper towel to drain and set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Saute the onion, bell pepper, and bay leaves until the onions are glassy and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Break the cod into large flakes and add it to the skillet. Add the chopped garlic and another 1/4 cup of olive oil and continue to cook until the onions are golden, making sure not to burn the garlic, about 3 minutes.
Stir the fried potatoes and olives into the cod mixture until warmed through. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Remove the skillet from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Sprinkle the parsley over the cod mix and toss. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Fry the eggs over easy, 2 to 4 minutes.
To serve, mound the salt cod hash in the center of four plates and top each with an egg. Bring to the table immediately.
Portuguese Salt Cod Hash Recipe © 2009 Horatius. Photo © 2009 Horatius. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.