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Food - Drink
The Salted Fish That Plays A Valuable Role In Portuguese Cuisine
Throughout Portugal, cooks get their seafood fix and add a blast of umami and saltiness to foods by using economical, easy-to-find bacalhau, or salted cod. This unique product uses a centuries-old preservation method and was once the main way that the Portuguese ate cod, and continues to be a vital component of their cuisine.
"Bacalhau" is actually the name of the salt-curing process used with three species of cod: Gadus morhua, Gadus macrocephalus, and Gadus ogac. The fish is salted and dehydrated for months, a very effective preservation method that allows it to travel long distances, but it only needs a 15-minute poaching to be rehydrated for cooking.
Originally, the freshly-caught cod was split in half lengthwise, salted, and hung by its tail to dry, but this process took a lot of space. Today, Portuguese fishermen gut the fish, salt it, and pack it into crates aboard the fishing vessel to ship to Portugal, where it is eaten at both special occasions like Christmas and as an everyday favorite.
Bacalhau can be eaten raw, grilled, fried, steamed, in croquettes, and in Bacalhau com Natas, a cream-based potato dish, so long as you rehydrate and simmer it to get rid of some of the salt. If your hydrated and boiled cod tastes too salty, simply keep the fish in simmering water for longer, making sure to switch out the water every so often.