Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Portuguese Cod Fish Stew (Caldeirada de Bacalhau)

Cod Fish Stew
(caldeirada de bacalhau in Portuguese) 
is one thing that always reminds me of my mom...
I've learned from her how to make this dish
(among lots and lots of others).

this dish was made by fishermen while at sea.
They would use whatever kinds of fish they had caught
and cook everything using sea water.
For those of you who don't know Portugal (my home country)
is the most western country in Europe
and it boards at South and West with the Atlantic Ocean.
For that reason fishing was a way of making a living
for lots of people in the past. Not as much anymore,
but fresh fish is still one of the most important aspects of Portuguese cuisine.
This being said,
I'm going to share with all of you the recipe for this Caldeirada.
Once again I'll have to thank my sister for sending me the dried salt cod fish I've used for the stew.
You will need (for 3/4 people):
  • 6/7 potatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 3/4 cloves of garlic
  • 4/6 fresh tomatoes or 1 can whole or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 fresh bell pepper
  • 3/4 pieces of dry cod fish (after rehydrate for at least 24 hours) or fresh cod fish
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup white wine (optional) or fish broth or water
  • 2/3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Start by peeling potatoes and onions.
Slice the onions and garlic fairly thin
and the potatoes about 1" thick.
Slice the bell peppers in strips
(I've used frozen bell pepper from my last year's crop)
and cube the tomatoes if using fresh tomatoes
(I've used canned stewed tomatoes, 'cause I didn't had fresh ones).
Cut the cod fish in medium chunks (it will have bones and skin if using the salted cod fish).
In a large pot, start by layering  1/3 of the onion and garlic,
then 1/3 potatoes and the bay leaf,
then 1/3peppers and 1/3 tomatoes.
Salt and pepper on top. Repeat this layer 2 more times.
To finish top with the cod fish, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and the wine, broth or water.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low/medium and let it simmer for about an hour (remember, slow cooking).
Let it sit for about 20/30 minutes before serving to enhance the flavour.
It's really good!
Cut some bread pieces to soak in the sauce... homemade, or Italian or french, I would recommend.

Oh, by the way, I will post this recipe also
My wonderful daughter-in-law Rochelle is the editor
for the English version of the site and you can read her daily blog about food and food related stuff.
It's well worthy it!
And you can find mine and other recipes under Recipes
(mine are posted using my name, Helena).


  1. This looks so good! I'll have to soak our salted cod that we still have tonight so I can make this tomorrow :D I'm sure your son will be happy to get some more Portuguese food!

    I also love hearing about how the dish came about with the fishermen and using the sea water to cook with!

  2. this looks very good- will try soon!