Bacalhau à Braga – Portuguese Cod with Braised Peppers

When someone told me I should give Bacalhau à Braga a try, I wasn’t too keen. It looked a bit too similar to other Portuguese cod dishes I knew, and I already had my bacalhau recipe of choice. When I finally decided to give it a try, I was surprised with a unique combination of flavours and textures, and it quickly became one of my favourite ways of preparing salted cod. It simply consists of shallow fried salt cod loins, served with braised peppers, tomatoes, and onions.

Braga Style Codfish

Bacalhau à Braga was allegedly created by a restaurant in the city of Braga during the 1930s. The dish gained so much popularity that it spread to different parts of the Minho (the subregion of the North of Portugal, where Braga is located) and later to the entire country. That’s why we see both names Bacalhau à Braga (Braga Style Cod) and Bacalhau à Minhota (Minho Style Cod) being used interchangeably. Ultimately, they refer to the same bacalhau dish, which consists in fried cod loins topped with braised onions and peppers, served with potato chips.

Cod and Peppers

Bacalhau à Braga Recipe

Every salt cod recipe starts with the soaking of the fish. The process simply consists of soaking the dried cod for several days, swapping the water at least every 8 hours. The number of days needed to remove the excessive salt of the fish may vary depending on the cut of fish or the thickness of it. Roughly speaking, when preparing cod loin or postas, I soak it for 3 days. When working with the loin is important to remember to soak the fish with the skin facing up, so the salt doesn’t get trapped in the fish.

Tips for Preparing a Good Bacalhau à Braga

The secret to a good bacalhau à braga is in how you fry the fish. The best way is to coat the fish pieces in flour and shallow fry them in extra-virgin oil. The temperature of the oil shouldn’t be too hot, but just hot enough to gently fry it. As this oil full of flavour will be used to confit the onions and pepper slices. Another important part of this recipe is the potato chips made from scratch. I’m calling them chips, but they are sliced thicker, with approximately 0,5cm thickness. And fried just enough to gain some colour and texture, so they shouldn’t be as crispy as a crisp! They are traditionally deep fried, but I prefer air frying mine with a brush of the olive oil used to fry the fish.

Fried bacalha a braga

How to Prepare Bacalhau à Braga

Serves: 4

Calories per Portion: 726

Prep Time: 10 minutes + soaking of the dry salt cod

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 salt cod loins of approx. 250g each – soaked previously
  • 200ml good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g potatoes
  • ½ red pepper – approx. 120g
  • ½ yellow pepper – approx. 120g
  • 2 small tomatoes – approx. 200g
  • 2 small onions – approx. 250g
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour – approx. 120g
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2tbsp vinegar
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh parsley

Preparation:

  1. Start by adding the olive oil to a thick base skillet. Place it over low to medium heat.
  2. While the oil heats, dry your codfish pieces with a cloth or absorbent paper thoroughly. Coat them with all-purpose flour seasoned with black pepper.
  3. Once the olive oil is hot but not too hot, place two loins inside the frying pan, with the skin side facing down. Fry it for about 2 minutes on each side, for a total of about 8 minutes. Place the fried fish on top of absorbent paper. Repeat the process with the remaining two pieces of fish.
  4. In the meantime, pre heat the oven to 180˚C.
  5. Slice the onions, peppers, fry them in the same olive oil used to fry the fish, for about 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the bay leaf and sliced garlic cloves, fry for another 2 minutes. Season with black pepper and the paprika.
  6. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them into slices of approx. 0,5 cm. Rinse until the water runs clear. Dry them thoroughly with a clean cloth.
  7. Transfer your pepper mixture to a baking dish, drizzle them with half of the remaining olive oil. Place the fried fish loins on top, bake for about 15 minutes.
  8. In the meantime, pre-heat the air fryer to 180˚C. Fry your potatoes for about 10 minutes until they are slightly golden and crispy. You can deep fry them if you prefer.
  9. Serve the fried cod topped with the braised peppers and onions, a side of your homemade potato chips, and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Bacalhau a Minhota

Have you tried this recipe? Let me know in the comments!!

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