Bacalhau à Brás

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

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

  • Quick Glance
  • (7)
  • 1 H
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 4 to 6 servings
5/5 - 7 reviews
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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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    • Salt cod is available at Italian markets as baccalà and at Spanish markets as bacalao.


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    1. 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.

    2. 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. 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.

      1. Sonya, yes, people have done that. It makes something closer to hash browns than matchsticks. I prefer the more crunchy sticks, but who am I to stand between a girl and her potatoes?!

        1. I ended up just chopping my potatoes into matchstick and it was the best decision I’ve made. YUMMY DISH!!!

    3. Found a Portuguese market near my house in Fremont, CA I had no idea existed! Picked up a couple pounds of Bacalhau and made the bacalhau a bras recipe from here and it turned out delicious! We visit Portugal every year to see family and this recipe is spot on to what I eat in Portugal. Thank you very much!!

    4. Ok, my sister made this for us when we visited her in Spain this summer. I had never eaten or heard of this wonderful recipe. Of course, I knew I would find the recipe here and it was just like the first time I had it!!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    5. Hi!!!!!
      On the page of Jamie Oliver they post a recipe of Bacalhau a Bras totaly wrong. Can I post your recipe as comment in his page, so they can learn how to do properly? Thank you. I’m Portuguese, and I can’t watch a chef like Jamie do this to culinary portuguese…

      Na pagina do Jamie Oliver puseram uma receita de Bacalhau a Bras completamente errada. Posso por a sua receita como comentario no site dele, para ele aprender? Obrigada. Sou portuguesa, e não consigo ve um chef como o Jamie a fazer o que fez a culinaria portuguesa…

    6. I’m so glad to find this website. I have lived in the U.S. since my parents migrated in 1960. We live in MA. My Daughters and I love Portuguese cooking and we are always looking for traditional recipes so we can keep the Portuguese in our family. Thank you.

      1. Natalia, my pleasure. Where in MA are you? I grew up in Fall River/Swansea. During this year I’ll add more recipes to the site. You’ll also find both contemporary and classic recipes in my cookbook.

    7. I LOL’d at the first step of this recipe. “No dear, I think it’s YOUR turn to get up and change the fish-water.”

        1. I’m Canadian born of Azorean decent. I’ve never felt so proud to be Portuguese as I did after making this dish. Absolutely delicious! Used green olives instead of black olives and added them with the onions. Either way the concept is awesome.

          1. Sir.geo, it doesn’t get any better than this–both your comment and the dish. I’m so glad you like this. Bacalhau à Brás is one of my very favorite Portuguese dishes. The best I ever had was at Bota Alta, in the Bairro Alto area of Lisbon

    8. I searched the Internet for this recipe remembering the best Bacalao I ever tasted…it was in Barrio Alto in Lisboa the summer of 2003. (I just couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant), your recipe popped up first and foremost! I have had this dish locally at Old Lisbon Restaurant in Miami and have craved to make it myself. This recipe was exactly what I was looking for! Exquisitely good!

    9. David, I used to buy cupcakes, the name sounded like calote. one of the ingredients was crushed almonds. Have you got the recipe for this delicious dessert which used to get in the Churrasco in Lisboa, near the famous seafood restaurant. There was also another chicken House “something” REI on top.


        1. Hi David, thanks for answering so promptly. It appears as if the ingredients include cream, crushed biscuits, vanilla, crushed almonds, sprinkle of cinnamon on top. I have the ingredients, just don’t know how to make it ?


    10. Hello, David. I see this is the classic recipe of Bacalhau à Brás. I used to do it exactly as you mention, with one exception: I use olive oil for the last bit, rather than cooking oil, which I only use to fry the matchstick potatoes.

      However, after seeing one of the pousada’s chefs preparing it, I learned a trick that makes it much better tasting–and surprising. The trick is to add the fried potatoes only at the very last moment. That way they keep their crispy bite, and the dish becomes less soggy and lighter. So, you add the eggs to the bacalhau and onions and let it cook over a very low fire for a couple of minutes. Only then do you add the potatoes, and stir it only slightly. It tastes even better! Try it just once, and you’ll never go back to the classic version.

      Bom proveito!
      Nuno Matos

        1. Instead of matchstick potatoes I prefer to use paille (I don’t know how do you refer to them in English, sorry!) On occasion, I add a little bit of garlic to the onions; it enhances the flavours.

          There’s another very similar recipe, called Bacalhau Dourado which was “invented” or made popular at the Elvas Pousada. The diference is you don’t use onions. First fry the cod, then the eggs, and ONLY then the potatoes. Black olives, lots of fresh ground black pepper and finely choped parsley are a must. (I prefer the large-leaf parsley we use in Portugal rather than the curly parsley you find in England and North of Europe. Ours is much more perfumed and tasty.)

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