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Salt Cod With Onions, White Wine and Cabbage

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“Bacalhau a Moda de Viana. Bacalhau (salt-preserved cod) is a traditional ingredient originally found in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, but today also found in Brazilian and Italian cuisine. This form of cod made the long journeys of the Portuguese Explorers of the 15th-16th centuries possible. If your city has a Hispanic or Italian market, odds are you can find it ... if not, you can substitute any fresh, firm-fleshed white fish, although the flavor will be different. Before using, you need to "reconstitute" (desalt and rehydrate) the bacalhau, by soaking in water for 24-48 hours, changing the water every 12-24 hours. Some people choose to do the last reconstitution with milk. NOTE THAT THE SOAKING TIME IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PREP TIME GIVEN BELOW. Another very traditional aspect to this recipe is the sauteed onion, called a cebollada, the most important flavoring of the Portuguese kitchen. In the Lisbon waterfront there is a restaurant, La Casa du Bacalhau, and as you might imagine, most of the dishes (including appetizers and even one dessert) are made with Bacalhau! I had a version of this dish there. This recipe is from the port of Viana de Castelo, in the Duoro region, and is based on the recipe in "The Food of Spain and Portugal" by Elisabeth Luard and was submitted for Zaar World Tour 5 (2009).”
2hrs 5mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 12 lbs dried salt cod fish (or (substitute 4 thick steaks of any fresh, firm-fleshed white fish)
  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs onions, finely sliced (about 6-7 medium onions)
  • 1 green cabbage
  • 2 lbs boiling potatoes, also called waxy potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 12 cup dry white wine, traditional Portuguese is vinho verde
  • 12 teaspoon salt, estimated, to taste
  • 12 teaspoon pepper, estimated to taste
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, optional as a garnish
  • 1 teaspoon piri-piri, optional as a garnish (can be store bought or many recipes already in Recipezaar)


  1. If using salt-cod, cut into 4 pieces and reconstitute as described in the Introduction; don't drain or dry the fish when done.
  2. If using fresh fish (4 steaks), rinse, lightly salt, and leave in a colander for 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In a medium-size (at least 10-12 inch diameter) frying pan, warm up the olive oil, then add the onions to sautee for about 30 minutes; you want golden, not brown, and soft; this is a basic cebollata (see Intro).
  5. Keep the cebollata warm (lowest stove top setting).
  6. Prepare the cabbage by trimming and removing four of the largest and most perfect outside leaves; cut out the thick, stiff stem at the base of each leaf.
  7. Use a heavy knife to flatten the leaves and make them more pliable.
  8. Shred the heart of the cabbage and set it aside for now.
  9. Wrap each of the 4 pieces of fish in a cabbage leaf.
  10. Lay the wrapped fish on a baking tray, put in the oven, and bake for 20-30 minutes, "until the wrappers are as dry and brown as tobacco leaves".
  11. While the fish are cooking, prepare the potatoes as follows:.
  12. Put a medium-sized covered pan (big enough to hold the potatoes and the shredded cabbage) on the stove top and put in the potatoes.
  13. Add the wine and enough water to cover and cook (medium heat) for about 10 minutes.
  14. Remove the cover, add the shredded cabbage, and cover tightly to let the cabbage steam (turn up the heat a bit if necessary).
  15. Cook until the potatoes are tender, probably a total of 15-20 minutes.
  16. Remove the potatoes and cabbage with a slotted spoon to your serving dish.
  17. Add the cooking juices from the potato/cabbage pot into the cebollata in the frying pan, taste and season, then increase the heat to reduce the liquid until you have a thick rich sauce.
  18. Pour the sauce over the potato and cabbage base.
  19. Remove the fish from the oven, place them on the potato and cabbage base and open the wrappers.
  20. Optionally, garnish with parsley and piri piri.
  21. Enjoy!

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