How to Make Bacalhau

Four Parts:Preparing the Dried Salted CodPreparing the PotatoesPreparing the Add-Ins and ToppingsPreparing the Dish

Bacalhau is a type of dried, salted cod. This ingredient is extremely popular in Portuguese cuisine. It is layered with potatoes and caramelized onions and garnished with hard boiled egg, parsley, and black olives.



  • 2 pounds dried, salted cod fish
  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 yellow onions
  • Fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  • Black pepper

Part 1
Preparing the Dried Salted Cod

  1. Image titled Make Bacalhau Step 1
    Soak 2 pounds of dried salted cod in cold water for 24 to 36 hours. Soaking the fish in cold water removes the salt from the surface of the fillets. Place 2 pounds of dried salted cod in a dish. Cover the fish in cold water and place the dish in the fridge. Change the water every 8 hours.
    • You may change the water more frequently if desired.[2]
  2. Image titled Make Bacalhau Step 2
    Boil the desalted cod for approximately 5 minutes. Fill a large pan with water and bring it to a boil. Add the fish to the water. After five minutes, remove the cod from the water. If the cod flakes easily when pulled with a fork, it is done. If it does not flake, return it to the boiling water.
    • Save the water to boil the potatoes.
  3. 3
    Descale, debone, and flake the fish. Place the fish on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, carefully remove the skin and bones from the pieces of cod. Once the visible scales and bones are removed, start flaking, or pulling apart, the cod with a fork. As you flake the fish, remove any bones or scales you come across.
    • Keep the pieces bite sized or larger.[3]
  4. 4
    Create a seasoning for the cod. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, mix together the following ingredients:
    • ¾ cup olive oil
    • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
    • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
    • Black pepper to taste
  5. 5
    Season the cod. Place the flaked cod in a clean bowl. Pour the seasoning mixture over the cod and toss. Set the cod aside.[4]

Part 2
Preparing the Potatoes

  1. 1
    Rinse 2 pounds of yukon gold potatoes. Once clean, place the unpeeled potatoes in the pot of fish water to cook. You will peel them after the have cooked.[5]
    • Alternatively, you may peel potatoes before placing them in the pot of fish water, allow them to cook, and then peel the potatoes.[6]
  2. 2
    Boil the potatoes until tender. Turn on the burner and bring the pot of fish water and potatoes to a boil. This takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. 3
    Drain, cool, peel, and slice the potatoes. Pour the contents of the pan into a colander. Set the potatoes aside to cool. Once cool, remove the peel from the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into ¼ to ½ inch slices.[7]
    • If you peeled the potatoes first, just slice the potatoes once cool.[8]

Part 3
Preparing the Add-Ins and Toppings

  1. Image titled Make Bacalhau Step 8
    Thinly slice two yellow onions and sauté in butter. As the potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. While the skillet heats up, finely slice two yellow onions. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until caramelized. Once the onions have browned, stir in one clove of chopped garlic.
    • Turn off the burner and remove the onion-garlic mixture from the skillet.
  2. 2
    Hard boil 4 eggs. You may hard boil the eggs in advance, or prepare them at the same time as the potatoes and onions.
    • Place 4 eggs in a sauce pan.
    • Cover the eggs with 1 to 2 inches of cold water.
    • Place the pan on a burner and bring the water to a boil.
    • Turn off the burner but do not remove the pan from the heat.
    • Cover the sauce pan and let the eggs sit for 10 to 12 minutes.
    • Drain the eggs and run them under cold water. This will stop the cooking process.[9]
  3. 3
    Peel and slice the hard boiled eggs. Remove the shell from the hard boiled eggs. Carefully slice the eggs with a sharp knife.[10]

Part 4
Preparing the Dish

  1. 1
    Layer the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8 x 11 inch baking pan. Layer the ingredients in the following order:
    • ½ of the sliced potatoes
    • ½ of the salted cod
    • ½ of the caramelized onions
    • ½ of the sliced potatoes
    • ½ of the salted cod
    • ½ of the caramelized onions[11]
  2. 2
    Bake the Bacalhau. Insert the layered dish into the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the dish from the oven.[12]
  3. 3
    Garnish the dish and serve. Place the sliced hard boiled eggs onto the top of the dish. Spread out ¼ cup of pitted black and/or green olives. Sprinkle the dish with freshly chopped parsley.[13]

Article Info

Categories: Fish and Seafood | Portuguese and Spanish Cuisine