Image by Sébastien Marchand

Bacalhau à Brás

Bacalhau à Brás is a Portuguese classic that is both comforting and surprisingly complex. It's a perfect balance of salty cod, potatoes, onions, parsley, scrambled egg and of course, the all-important hand-shredded olives. But what makes this dish so special is not its simple combination of ingredients but rather the myriad of compelling flavors packed into each bite.

Bacalhau à Brás

The cod of course is key here. A Portuguese staple, it is a surprisingly nuanced and hearty fish that carries some powerful umami notes. Then you have the delicate, almost-sweet potatoes that add a hint of creaminess to offset the saltiness of the cod. The onion contributes a lightly sweet note and the parsley adds a unique herbal component. Lastly, the olives give the dish its memorable and unmistakable flavor. The hand shredding helps the olives mix evenly throughout the dish and adds a stimulating complexity that brings it all together.

This hearty, savory dish is truly an all-in-one experience. It's briny, succulent, comforting, and absolutely delicious. So grab a fork and dig in to experiencing this cultural delicacy for yourself!

The origin of Bacalhau à Brás

It is said that the origins of Bacalhau à Brás can be traced all the way back to the 15th century when Portuguese explorers discovered codfish on the coast of Newfoundland and Northern Europe. The fish was dried and salted, allowing it to be stored for long periods of time, and thus became a staple of Portuguese cuisine.

The original recipe for Bacalhau à Brás, however, is much more recent in origin. It is believed to have originated in the 19th century, in the cities of Belem and Braga in northern Portugal. The name itself is derived from two words - bacalhau, which means cod in Portuguese, and brás, which means "mixed". The dish consists of shredded salted cod mixed with diced potatoes, onions, parsley and eggs.

This delicious combination is believed to have been invented by José de Brás, a local fishing entrepreneur who wanted to create a meal that would make the most of the plentiful supply of salted cod. His creation quickly caught on, and soon spread throughout Portugal and, eventually, became an international favorite.

Today, Bacalhau à Brás is one of the most popular dishes in Portugal, served up in restaurants, homes and holiday feasts, as a reminder of its origins. Its savory ingredients combine to create a truly unique and unforgettable taste, offering a nostalgic experience for those familiar with its history.

What's even more remarkable about this dish is its resilient nature. Despite its centuries-old roots, Bacalhau à Brás continues to delight diners with its unassuming but subtly complex flavor. Whether you're a die-hard fan or a newly-converted devotee, this classic dish offers an unparalleled culinary experience.

FAQs about Bacalhau à Brás

Is baccalà Italian or Portuguese?

Baccalà is a traditional dish of both Italy and Portugal.

What does a Brás mean?

Brás is a term used in Brazilian Portuguese to describe someone from the lower-class, who may not necessarily be destitute, but is living on a significantly lower income than average. It is also often used to refer to someone who has an ingenuous or creative approach to problem solving.

What is bacalhau fish in English?

Bacalhau is a type of dried salted cod, a popular fish in Portuguese cuisine. In English, it is known as salt cod or dried cod.

What is Portuguese national dish?

The national dish of Portugal is caldo verde, a hearty soup made with potatoes, kale or collard greens, smoked sausage, and olive oil.

Types of Bacalhau à Brás

and phrases

Ah, Bacalhau à Brás. It’s one of the most beloved traditional dishes in Portugal, and for good reason. This classic cod dish is incredibly flavorful and versatile, introducing a variety of textures and flavors in every bite. The name itself is derived from the phrase “brás de ovo” which translates to “shredded eggs”. This refers to the characteristic scramble of eggs and cod that make up the bulk of the dish. There are many different types of this dish, allowing cooks to incorporate a variety of ingredients to suit individual tastes.

The most popular version of this dish consists of small cubes of salted cod, which have been desalinated, combined with olives, onion and scrambled eggs. The combination of these ingredients creates a savory and complex flavor. Variations on this traditional recipe may include potatoes, tomatoes or garlic for an added layer of flavor.

One variation of Bacalhau à Brás utilizes a béchamel sauce to create an extra creamy texture. This version combines the traditional ingredients of shredded eggs, cod and olives with the sauce, creating a thick and luxurious dish that satisfies even the most discerning palate.

Another popular version of this classic dish is the Bolinhos de Bacalhau, or codfish balls. This type incorporates shredded cod and boiled potatoes into small balls that are often served as an appetizer or main course. They are typically fried in olive oil and may be topped with parsley for an extra zing.

Finally, there is a version of this dish which is prepared without egg entirely. This version relies on the salted cod, garlic and other ingredients to bring out the flavors of the dish. Topped with fried potatoes, this version has a slightly different texture to it, but still manages to bring out the taste of the cod very well.

Overall, Bacalhau à Brás is a highly adaptable dish that can be enjoyed in countless ways. Whether enjoying a classic version or a more modern version, this dish always delivers in flavor and texture. With so many varieties to choose from, it’s no wonder that it’s a beloved favorite in Portugal and beyond.