Paleo Portuguese Bacalhau Stew
I’m back with another one pot recipe. A delicious bacalhau or salted cod fish stew. I was inspired by the Portuguese version Bacalhau à Gomes de Sa. Which at its core is a layered casserole of bacalhau, onions and potatoes. I kept the bacalhau and onions but substituted the potatoes with sweet potatoes. It’s important to use the white sweet potatoes as they are less sweet than their orange counterparts. And they hold their shape better. I also added some black olives and aubergine. You simply have to layer all the ingredients and leave it to cook on low heat for about 1 hour. No stirring involved, no need to constantly check. And once it’s done you are done. Ready to serve.
Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for dried and salted cod. Funnily enough with all the fresh fish they have there this is the only fish they don’t eat fresh. And I’m not exaggerating when I say there are over 1000 bacalhau recipes in Portugal. Literally everything is made with it. From fish cakes known as bolinhos to mixed in rice or even cooked in cream. You would almost think they invented the method of drying and salting fish. But that honor goes to the Basques. And was adopted by neighboring countries around 1500 in order to preserve fish longer. The reason it became so popular was that during that period it was very cheap to buy. So, Portuguese people incorporated it in everything.
In Portugal and especially in other predominantly Catholic countries it’s very common to use bacalhau during Easter and Christmas. During Lent the Catholic church calls for people to abstain from eating meat and salted cod was the perfect solution. Being quite cheap and readily available. I already have a bacalhau salad on the blog which is common around Easter. And I’m sure this won’t be the last bacalhau recipe I post.
Paleo Portuguese Bacalhau Stew
- 600 gram salted cod fish
- 2 large onions halved and sliced
- 3 white sweet potato peeled and sliced
- 2 aubergine peeled and sliced
- 200 gram black olives sliced in half
- 400 ml olive oil possibly more
- salt and pepper
- parsley as topping chopped
- Place the salted cod in warm water to soften the fish and remove some of the salt taste. It all depends on how salty you like it but you will have to change the water a few times to get the desired level of saltiness. After the first time you are just using water at room temperature.
- After you got the cod fish to the desired level of salt simply break it apart using your hands.
- Use a big pot, I used my Dutch oven. And start layering the sweet potatoes to cover the bottom. Next add a layer of the salted cod fish. Continue with a layer of the sliced aubergine, olives and onions.
- Add some salt and pepper on top and generously pour some olive oil over all the layers.
- Continue layering with sweet potato, codfish aubergine, olives and onions while adding salt, pepper and olive oil between each layer.
- Once you’re done layering cover the pot and turn the heat on to medium low. Let cook for 45-60 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through. And dig in.
- Serve with chopped parsley.