Creamed Bacalhau

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To follow up on my last post, no trip to any Seabra’s is complete without a visit to the bacalhau department. Bacalhau (pronounced ba-kal-Yow) is dried, salted cod that’s used in purportedly thousands of recipes in Brazilian/Portuguese cuisine and I recommend that you try it even if you’re not a fan of fish (an afishionado, as it were). As a rule, the larger the Seabra’s, the bigger the seafood department, hence the wider the assortment of bacalhau varieties, provenance, and sizes from small chunks to whole fish. It goes without saying that it has a seriously long shelf life.

I generally purchase enough to make a few dishes like brandade and the creamed bacalhau shown here. It’s simple to execute, doesn’t require much time in the kitchen (i.e., not including a 2–3 day soak in the fridge to rehydrate and desalinate the fish), and is deliciously rewarding.

Here’s an oversimplification of what I did after soaking, rinsing, and draining the fish: Simmer the cod in water until it’s tender (it will break up). While that’s going, sauté chopped onions, garlic, and bell pepper in butter and set aside. Cook the softened cod a bit in more butter – it doesn’t take long. Add some half and half and continue to cook as the fish absorbs the liquid; you may need a few additions until it’s nearly saturated. The idea is to completely soften the fish and have no liquid remaining.

Add the aromatics back to the cod along with some thawed frozen peas and enough heavy cream to reach the consistency you desire. Add freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt and any other seasonings you like as the spirit moves you. Cook to heat through.

I garnished it with chopped scallions and petits poivrons and plated it with glazed carrots on the side.

Sometimes I think that I could do an ethnojunket to the Ironbound just for Seabra’s, Nasto’s Ice Cream, and Teixeira’s Bakery (all posted on my website if you’re curious). Just a thought. 😉