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      March 2012 > How to prepare the perfect Bacalhau à Bras

How to prepare the perfect Bacalhau à Bras

In a previous blog and email bulletin we reported that James, our Portuguese expert, was rather fond of a fish dish called Bacalhau à Bras. Since then, we’ve had several requests to publish the recipe – and so here it is.

It all starts in the far north of Europe, way beyond the Arctic Circle, when the fishing fleets of the Lofoten Islands, having braved the stormy seas of the North Sea in search of Atlantic Cod, sail back to port to land their catch.

The cod is cleaned, beheaded (the heads are exported to West Africa where the cheeks are a prized delicacy), salted for preservation and hung out to dry in the sun and wind on long wooden racks which can be found all across the islands. After a suitable time, the dried cod – or stockfish – is sent south…

This process has been going on for hundreds of years as the resulting dried fish could last for many months. It soon became very popular in the Catholic countries of the Mediterranean, in particular, which require fish to be eaten on Fridays – hence the number of dishes that have been created using this dried white fish.

Before it can be eaten, however, the salted cod must be rehydrated and desalinated by soaking it in cold water for one to three days, changing the water two to three times a day. Once this has taken place, you are ready to prepare your Bacalhau à Brás:

Ingredients (makes 4 to 6 servings)

  • 1lb (450g) dried salt cod*
  • 7 tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1½1b (680g) russet potatoes, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips (about 6 cups)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 large eggs
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbs chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 18 oil-cured black olives


Drain the fish and place in a large saucepan.
  • Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until the fish flakes easily, about 15mins.
  • Drain and cool. Flake the fish, discarding any bones.
  • Heat 4 tbs of the oil in a heavy, large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the potatoes in batches and sauté until crisp and golden, about 7mins per batch.
  • Transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain.
  • Add 1 tbs of the oil to the same pan.
  • Add the onion and bay leaf and sauté until golden, about 15mins.
  • Discard the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Add the remaining 2 tbs oil to the onion slices in the pan.
  • Mix in the fish and potatoes.
  • Whisk the eggs, the ½tsp salt, and the ½tsp pepper in a large bowl to blend.
  • Add the egg mixture and 3 tbs of the parsley to the fish mixture in the pan.
  • Cook over medium heat until the eggs are softly set, stirring occasionally, about 3mins.
  • Transfer the eggs to a plate and garnish with the olives and the remaining 1 tbs of parsley.

And finally…

Gather your friends or family around a table in the sunshine and enjoy your Bacalhau à Brás accompanied by a glass or two of chilled Vinho do Alentejo… Simply delicious!

Algarve Quinta, Portugal


Posted: 29/02/2012 16:44:48 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: gastronomy, Norway, Portugal

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