Bacalhau à brás is one of the most popular salt-cod dishes in Portugal and beyond. The delicious combination of flakey cod, shoestring fried potatoes, and onions, all brought together by delicious creamy eggs, is celestial. After you try it you will understand why. It is a simple dish and very easy to make.
Unfortunately, this dish is often not made well. The eggs are
not supposed to scramble. Just like an Italian carbonara, the eggs should thicken into a silky sauce. That my friends does take practice. I will share a tip, to make this easier for beginners, below.
Just remember that salt cod needs to be rehydrated and de-salted, before you can cook with it.
To do this, rinse the cod under cold running water to remove excess salt. Place the cod in a large bowl and fill it with cold water. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Over the next 24 hours, change the water several times. At least 4.
When ready to use, rinse and pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
I also suggest bringing your eggs up to room temperature by taking them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you begin the recipe.
In Portugal many people make this recipe with store bought, bagged potato chips, called potato sticks. I think you know what I am going to say next. Do not be lazy! It only takes 10 minutes to peel and cut the potatoes into matchsticks. You can also use a mandolin to cut them even faster. The taste is so superior. If you can't find salt-cod, follow my link and make your own!
Bacalhau à Brás ❦ Salt Cod Hash
650 g. Salt cod, soaked and ready to use
650 g. Potatoes, peeled and cut into matchsticks
12 Eggs*, 8 whole and 4 yolks, large and preferably free-range
3 Onions, medium, sliced very thinly into half moons
3 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Bay leaf
120 ml. Extra virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil, as needed to fry potatoes
150 g. Black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
1 Bunch, fresh flat leaf parsley leaves only, finely chopped
Remove skin and bones from cod. With your fingers shred cod. Reserve.
In a bowl beat eggs and yolks. Reserve
Put a high sided, large frying pan, on medium heat.
Add extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic and bay leaf. Sauté onions until soft and translucent.
Add shredded cod and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Turn off heat. Taste for salt. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a deep pot or electric fryer.
Heat vegetable oil to about 170°c. Fry potatoes until cooked through and light gold in colour. About 4 minutes
Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
To finish, add half the fried potatoes to the pan with fish and onions, on a medium heat. Stir to combine. Add eggs* and stir continuously and take off the heat. Continue to stir until eggs have thickened. (The goal here is to slowly bring up the temperature of the eggs without scrambling them.)
Add the remaining potatoes, parsey and half the olives. Stir to combine. Serve immediatly with rest of sleced olives on top.
*If you want to ensure you're eggs won't scramble until you master the technique above, you can cheat a bit by tempering your eggs first. How can you do this? It's easy! Boil some water. About 120 ml., should be enough to get the eggs hot enough.
Add a very small amount of the hot water into the eggs while constantly whisking the eggs. Continue to slowly add the hot water while whisking the eggs continuously. Once all the water is mixed in you can now add the tempered egg mixture to the fish and potatoes and proceed as above.
Ensuring you follow the steps above, you too can make a creamy, not scrambled dish.
Enjoy with a dressed salad or side of wilted greens.