Where to land when planning a Portugal trip?

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá - the national dish of Portugal?

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is an iconic Portuguese dish is named for Gomes de Sá, a 19th-century cod merchant who developed this cod casserole for the Restaurante Lisbonense in Porto. Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa, that is how you say Cod in Portuguese!

No, the Portuguese did not fish the first cod, or even name it (the Basques have that honor), but they sure know how to cook it. Let me start with a little vocabulary - Bacalhau. Translated to English, this means salted cod. So, what is fresh cod in Portuguese? There is no such word. They say that in Portugal there are more than 365 ways to make cod - one for each day of the year. And, the way it is served varies greatly from region to region. So, what is the big deal with salt cod? In days of old, cod fishing boats would spend weeks in the North Atlantic, catching and salting fresh cod. Once back in port, be it in Aveiro, Viana or Setubal, the fish would stay fresh for weeks. It became an affordable, easily transported staple throughout Portugal. As a result, the Portuguese love cod (and, they will tell you, cod loves olive oil - a story for another day...). So what is the best of the recipes? Ask 12 Portuguese and you will get 13 answers. But, if forced, let me share a tale of Porto's great cod merchant, who came up with a recipe in the 19th century that was so good, they named it after him: Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa.
Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa
*          2 pounds salt cod
*          6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
*          2 large yellow onions, sliced
*          4 cloves garlic, minced
*          One pinch nutmeg
*          White pepper, to taste
*          4 medium potatoes, boiled, cooled, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
*          8 hard-boiled eggs, halved, for garnish
*          Portuguese olives and chopped parsley, for garnish
1.         Rinse the cod under cold running water to remove any surface salt Place the fish pieces in a bowl 24 hours, changing the water several times
2.         Pour out the water, fill a pot with clean water and gently boil the cod until it flakes easily with a fork, about 7 to 10 minutes (or longer), depending on the thickness.
3.         Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onions until barely brown. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Set aside.
4.         Drain the cod and let cool. Flake it into a large bowl and remove any bones or bits of skin. Add the onion-garlic mixture, nutmeg, white pepper and remaining olive oil, and toss lightly. Pack the mixture into well-oiled 9-x-13-inch ovenproof casserole dish. Cover the codfish with the potato slices.
5.         Lightly oil a cookie sheet, place it over the casserole and invert. Carefully remove the casserole dish to keep the cod mixture intact. Bake in a preheated, 400?F (200?C) oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cod is lightly toasted.
6.         To serve, cut a square of cod and center it on a plate. Drizzle with additional olive oil to moisten. Garnish with 2 egg halves, several olives and some parsley.
This recipe is from Leite's Culinaria (www.leitesculinaria.com)

Jayme Henriques Simões
Louis Karno & Company Communications, LLC
Strategic Communication Counsel
31 Warren St., Concord, NH 03301


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