The Codfish Route: A Portuguese Culinary Tradition

The Codfish Route A Portuguese Culinary Tradition

Welcome to our culinary journey along the “Codfish Route,” a celebration of Portugal’s rich seafood tradition.

This exploration explores into the heart of Portuguese cuisine, where codfish, or in Portuguese “bacalhau,” reigns.

Embark with us as we uncover the secrets behind this beloved staple, a symbol of Portuguese culture and gastronomy.

Understanding the History behind the Codfish Route

Codfish, or “bacalhau,” became central to Portuguese cuisine during the Age of Discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries. Explorers needed food that could withstand long sea voyages.

Salted codfish, with its long shelf life, was the perfect solution.

When returning home, these explorers brought their reliance on codfish into Portuguese households. Over centuries, it evolved from a necessity to a cultural icon.

Every region in Portugal began to create its own codfish recipes, each reflecting local tastes and traditions. This evolution gave birth to the diverse and rich culinary landscape that we explore today.

Lisbon: The Gateway to the Route

In Lisbon, codfish is more than food; it’s an art. Start your journey at Time Out Market, where chefs transform codfish into culinary masterpieces.

Don’t miss trying “Bacalhau à Brás,” a delightful mix of shredded cod, onions, and fried potatoes.

Porto: A City United by Codfish

Porto’s love affair with codfish is evident in its cuisine.

Here, “Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá,” a hearty dish of baked cod with potatoes, onions, and eggs, tells of local traditions and flavors. Each bite reflects Porto’s culinary heritage.

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

The Algarve: Codfish with a Southern Twist

The Algarve’s sunny coast adds a unique flair to codfish recipes.

“Bacalhau com Natas,” where codfish is baked in a rich cream sauce, showcases the region’s fusion of land and sea flavors.

Bacalhau com Natas

Codfish Festivals: Celebrating a Culinary Icon

Portugal’s love for codfish extends to vibrant festivals.

The Festival of Bacalhau in Ílhavo celebrates this culinary icon with cooking demonstrations, tastings, and cultural events. It’s a testament to the codfish’s revered status in Portuguese culture.

Home Cooking: Codfish in Portuguese Kitchens

The “Codfish Route” also leads to home kitchens, where family recipes passed down to generations come alive.

Simple yet flavorful, dishes like “Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo,” a blend of codfish, mashed potatoes, and mayonnaise, resonate with homey comfort.

Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo

Sustainable Codfish: The Future of Tradition

As we cherish codfish’s role in Portuguese cuisine, sustainability becomes crucial. Initiatives for responsible fishing ensure that future generations can also enjoy this culinary heritage.

The “Codfish Route” is not just about savoring flavors, but also about preserving them.

A Codfish Recipe: Bacalhau à Brás

This dish is a staple in Portuguese cuisine and perfectly showcases the versatility of codfish. It’s simple yet full of flavors that will take your taste buds on a journey to Portugal!

Bacalhau à Brás


  • 400g desalted codfish, shredded
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 eggs, beaten
  • Olive oil for frying
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Black olives (preferably Portuguese), for garnish


  1. Prepare the Potatoes:
    • Peel the potatoes and cut them into very thin matchsticks.
    • Heat olive iol in a deep fan or fryer.
    • Once hot, fry the potato matchsticks until golden and crispy.
    • Remove them from the iol and place them on a paper tower to drain excess oil.
  2. Cook the Codfish:
    • In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat.
    • Add the thinly sliced onions and sauté until they’re soft and slightly golden.
    • Add the shredded codfish to the skillet and cook until it’s heated through.
  3. Combine Ingredients:
  • Add the crispy potatoes to the skillet with the codfish and onions.
  • Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture in the skillet.
  • Gently stir until the eggs are cooked and the mixture has a creamy consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Final Touches:
    • Sprinkle chopped parsley over the dish.
    • Garnish with black olives.
  2. Serve Bacalhau à Brás hot as a delightful main dish.

Our exploration of the “Codfish Route” may end, but the journey through Portugal’s codfish tradition is endless. We invite you to continue discovering and savoring this integral part of Portuguese culinary heritage.

Enjoy your meal, or as the Portuguese say, “Bom apetite!”