Portuguese Scrambled Eggs with Salt Cod and Potatoes

Portuguese Scrambled Eggs with Salt Cod and Potatoes Recipe

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

Portuguese Scrambled Eggs with Salt Cod and Potatoes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 pound dried salt cod
  • 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 oil-cured black olives


  • 1. Rinse the fish and place it in a bowl. Add enough cold water to cover. Chill overnight, changing the water several times.
  • 2. The next day, drain the fish and transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until the fish flakes easily, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Flake the fish, discarding any bones.
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. 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.


  • Salt cod is available at Italian markets as baccalà and at Spanish markets as bacalao.
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  1. 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. Nuno, great idea. Readers, try Nuno’s suggestion of adding the matchstick potatoes at the very last minute and let me know if you like it better.

      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.)

  2. 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 ?


  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

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