If you’ve ever been to Portugal, you will have noticed how much we love our cod fish. This fish has been a staple of the Portuguese diet for centuries and every family has their own favourite way to prepare it. In my house, we make a casserole with salt cod, chickpeas, potatoes and eggs – often called “Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa”. This recipe is even a hit amongst our non-Portuguese dinner guests who have been known to enjoy the cold leftovers for breakfast.
The cod fish you find in Portugal will be salted because cod does not originate in Portuguese waters and the salt acted as a preservative in the days before refrigerators. Salted cod in Portuguese is called “Bacalhau” and you can find it in any Portuguese grocery store or fish market.
Fun fact: Every great Portuguese cod dish is made even greater by its back story and according to Wikipedia, Gomes de Sa was an actual person, the son of a wealthy cod merchant who after the loss of their family fortune, was forced to take work in a restaurant where he created this dish.
- 1 to 1.5 lbs salt cod
- olive oil (approximately 1/2 cup)
- approximately 2 lbs of waxy potatoes – sliced into quarter inch thick pieces
- 1 medium sized spanish onion – thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic – minced
- a handful of fresh parsley – chopped
- 3 eggs
- salt and pepper
- 1 can of chick peas (540 ml can)
- optional: 15 black olives
- The cod needs to be soaked in water in the fridge for 24-36 hours. Keep in in a covered container and change out the water 3 or 4 times.
- Boil the potatoes so that they are tender but not crumbling apart. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and set aside.
- Drain the cod and cut or flake into small pieces. Set aside.
- Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions and garlic until tender and fragrant. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a ceramic casserole dish with olive oil and assemble the casserole in the following order:
- half the potatoes plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper
- half the cod
- half the onion mixture
- half the can of chickpeas*
- remainder of the cod
- remainder of the potatoes plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper
- remainder of the chickpeas*
- remainder of the onion mixture
- about 1/4 cup olive oil + more salt and pepper
- Bake under foil for 30-40 minutes
- While the casserole is baking, boil, peel and slice the eggs
- Serve casserole garnished with eggs, parsley and a nice glass of Portuguese vinho verde like Gazela
*Some prefer to add in the chickpeas for the last 10 minutes of baking to keep them from getting dried out. This method works fine, you will just need to mix them in.