If there’s one thing Portuguese cuisine does well, it’s comfort food. Perhaps the best example is Bacalhau com Natas, or Salt Cod with Cream. It’s a delicious combination of flaky bacalhau served in a mixture of cream, potatoes, and onion, then topped with cheese and baked in the oven. On a chilly evening it doesn’t get much better than taking a scoop of creamy Bacalhau com Natas from a freshly baked oven dish. Its origins aren’t known, but it’s one of the most popular ways of serving bacalhau you’ll find in Portugal.
For the uninitiated you might be wondering what bacalhau is! If you’re not familiar with Portuguese cuisine, you might not be familiar with bacalhau. So, what is it? Well the direct translation means cod, but in Portugal it usually always refers to cod that’s been dried and salted. It’s immensely popular and is today an essential part of Portuguese cuisine and you’ll find it all over the place. The important thing to remember when cooking with bacalhau is that it needs to be soaked before using it in cooking. This soaking process is usually for around 4-6 hours but large pieces might need to be soaked for much longer. This is to rehydrate the fish, and to remove lots of the salt content.
Portuguese Cod with Cream Recipe:
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 400g lascas de bacalhau – soaked for 6 hours, changing the water regularly.
- 400g potatoes – peeled and diced
- Olive oil
- 2 medium onions – diced
- 3 garlic cloves – minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1tbsp butter
- 1tbsp flour
- 300ml milk
- 200ml natas frescas (fresh cream)
- Fresh parsley
- Nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste.
- 100g mozzarella cheese
- 50g parmesan cheese
- Rinse and drain the soaked cod, place it in a medium pot, and cover it with hot water. Place it over a medium heat, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Drain the fish, saving 1 cup of the water.
- In another medium-size pot, combine the butter, flour, and a drizzle of olive oil. Place It over low to medium heat. After the butter has melted, cook the mixture for around 2 minutes, constantly stirring.
- Add the milk and fish water, continue stirring until thickened. We want a bechamel consistency.
- Stir in the natas (fresh cream), season it with nutmeg, salt and black pepper.
- Place a frying pan over medium heat, add a tbsp of olive oil, the onions and garlic. Fry them till the onions are translucent. Add the fish and fry for another 5 minutes. Transfer it to a mixing bowl.
- Cover the bottom of the same frying pan with olive oil. Fry the potatoes in batches, till golden brown. Rest it on some absorbent towels to drain any excessive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius.
- Combine the fish sauce, the potatoes, and the fish. Place it on a baking dish, sprinkle the cheese on top,
- Place it in the oven and roast it for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
- Serve sprinkled with some fresh parsley.
This is one of our favourite recipes using bacalhau, but if you’re looking for some others take a look at our recipe for Pasteis de Bacalhau! Pastéis de Bacalhau are a Portuguese fried fish cake using the same cod in this recipe, fantastic as a snack or a starter!
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