Bacalhau à Brás (Salted Cod, Eggs, and Potatoes)

Bacalhau à Brás is a Portuguese dish using salted cod (bacalhau), eggs, and potatoes. The Portuguese were one of the first European cultures to fish for cod, making huge harvests and preserving the fish off the coast of Newfoundland shortly after Columbus discovered the New World. Since then, this salted cod has been an integral part of Portuguese culture, and it’s often said that you can cook a new recipe using bacalhau every day of the year (some say there are over 1,000 recipes that include this fish). Advances in fishing technology in the mid 20th century had collapsed the Northwest Atlantic cod market by the 1990s – cod takes a long time to mature, and overfishing had run rampant. Today, bacalhau is most often made using cod harvested from Arctic waters under more strict quotas.

Bacalhau is made by salting and drying the fish in the sun; while it was originally a method of preservation (salted cod keeps a long time even without refrigeration), its unique, strong flavor is unmistakable and delicious, and its popularity endures today. The only downside to eating bacalhau is that it requires a bit of foresight, since it needs to be soaked overnight to reconstitute the fish.

Bacalhau à Brás is one of the most famous Portuguese dishes, and is considered the ultimate comfort meal in Portugal. The dish uses many of the quintessential ingredients found in Portuguese cooking – bacalhau, eggs, potatoes, and black olives.

Sautéing the fish to soften

Bacalhau à Brás (Salt Cod, Eggs, and Potatoes)

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
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6oz bacalhau (salted cod), soaked overnight (see notes below)
2 med white potatoes (white sweet potatoes okay), peeled
1/4 cup lard or duck fat (coconut oil okay)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 pinch saffron (about 5 threads)
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 eggs, lightly beaten
small handful fresh parsley, chopped
3oz black olives (10-15 total)

1. Rinse the salt cod gently under cold water to remove any surface salt. Soak in cold water overnight (12-18 hours) in the fridge, changing the water twice (I started soaking a couple hours before bedtime, changed the water when I went to bed, and changed it again right when I woke up). When you’re ready to cook, drain the fish, gently rinse again under cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Shred the fish into bite-sized strips. At this point, the fish is ready for all sorts of dishes – sometimes I’ll soak extra so that I can simply sauté it in butter and enjoy it as-is.

2. Using a cheese grater or the grater attachment of a food processor, grate the potatoes into shreds. Soak in cold water for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly, and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Warm the lard or duck fat in a large skillet on med/high heat until shimmering. Add half of the potatoes and pan-fry, stirring often so as to keep the potatoes from sticking together; remove with a slotted spoon when they turn golden brown, about 5 minutes, and set aside to cool on paper towels. Repeat this process with the other half of the potatoes. Reduce heat to medium, discard all but 1 tbsp of the cooking fat.

4. Add the chopped onion and saffron to the skillet and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fish and pepper; gently stir to combine. Allow to sauté until the fish is softened, 3-5 minutes.

5. Add half of the fried potatoes, stirring to combine, then pour the beaten eggs over everything. Scramble the eggs until cooked, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and the other half of the potatoes; add the black olives, then serve.

39 thoughts on “Bacalhau à Brás (Salted Cod, Eggs, and Potatoes)

  1. I suppose the salt cod could ship well, do you have a source for the fish you would recommend? I dig comfort food, and if this is the dish the Portuguese turn to for comfort, I need to try it!


    1. Andy, I buy mine locally at Wegman’s, they sell it in traditional small wooden boxes. I think buying it online if you can’t find it locally would be fine. I heard two arguments about bacalhau, one being that quality matters, while someone else saying, “salt cod is salt cod.”


  2. I am a fish-eating-wannabe-but-unschooled (er, it was not something that we had much, unless you count the fish-fry that we always had after my grandfather visited the local pond), so I have to ask: WHERE do I look for the cod? Grocery store? Fish-monger? Specialty market? Please help.



    1. Ouida, a fish monger will usually have salted dried cod, aka baccalo. I used to be a fish monger. So go to the fish section of the grocery store OR if you have a stand alone fish store near you they can certainly help you.


  3. OMG. This is SOOOO good. This is right up my alley. I’m going to do this next week. YUM! I love that you incorporate dishes from around the world. I don’t think I’ll allow myself the duck fat, so I’ll have to go oil shopping. But saffron?! Gold.


    1. Other salted white fish (pollack, haddock) would work, but are harder to find. Using salted fish is key to this recipe, since it is very firm and can hold up to shredding and sautéing easily. Plus, it’s the key to this dish’s flavor!


  4. I come from India, where the Portuguese influence is seen in the cuisine of Goa as a result of Portuguese colonization. The Pork Vindaloo which is a signature dish from the region is also said to have had Portuguese origins. Would you know if any part of your cuisine was influenced as a result of the Portugal’s occupation in Goa? Also, how how common is rice in your cuisine?


    1. I knew that Vindaloo was of Portuguese influence (originally from “Carne de vinha d’alhos” – “meat with vinegar and garlic”), but I didn’t realize (until today) how much the Portuguese had influenced Goan cuisine! Very cool! I found a Wikipedia article with several examples: I’m not Portuguese so I’m not sure how much Goan cuisine has influenced Portugal, but I imagine there are several dishes that are the result of this time period. Thanks for bringing this to light for me!


  5. And you’ve done again!! You already cooked picanha, pao de queijo and now bacalhau!!! Love when cook brazilian & portuguese!
    Bacalhau reminds me so much of Brasil and my family. My great grandmother used to cook it, my grandma and my mum! It’s one of my family Christmas traditions.
    It’s not that easy to find bacalhau in Australia but I heard of few places that sell it. I will definitely give your recipe a go!
    Thanks for another great post!


  6. My apologies for missing so many of your posts, my father-in-law passed away this week, but it makes me very happy, and ear to ear smiles seeing such a beautiful dish! I love cod, it’s quit universal, eggs, potatoes, right up my alley!


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