Bacalhoada or Salted Codfish Casserole, is a traditional dish at most Brazilian tables on Easter, and like others of our food traditions its origin is from Portugal.
This fish isn't an easily-found-in-the supermarket item, and a good one can be pricey, that's why it's not an everyday meal but a special-occasion one. My American husband had never eaten Salted Codfish before I introduced it to him, and now he is a huge fan of it
Salted Codfish Casserole - Bacalhoada
♥ I always buy salted codfish fillets, boned and skinned, if you buy whole salt cod you'll have to remove the bones and the skin and discard them. Soak the fish in water for about 24 hours, changing the water at least 5 times to get rid of the salt, and that's the only trick on this recipe, otherwise it's an easy recipe to make. As you change the soaking water several times you may end up soaking out all of the fish's salt, in which case you'll have to add some back in.
Just before you are about to start cooking bring the fish to a quick boil, drain well and pat it dry. Cut the fillet into about 2 inch square chunks. At this point taste the fish for saltiness, if most of the salt was soaked out of it, and it doesn't taste salty at all, I add a chicken, or fish bouillon to the water I'm going to cook the potatoes in. Set the fish aside.
♥ Start by making a homemade tomato sauce - to skin the tomatoes I place them into boiling water for about 45 seconds, and then place them in a bowl filled with cold water. The skins of the tomatoes will crack and start to peel, and all you have to do is peel them off completely. Cut the tomatoes into small pieces discarding the hard pieces. I know most people do not use the seed in their tomato sauce, but I do, I like it and I see no reason to discard them. This is the first time I used sweet campari tomatoes to make this recipe and I liked a lot the combination of the sweetness of it with the salt of the fish.
Start in low heat and keep it there, place about 2-3 table spoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add diced-cut onions and let them start to glisten and sweat a little before adding garlic, stirring constantly or you'll end up with burned garlic. Add diced-cut peppers, parsley, freshly ground black pepper and pitted black olives. For this dish I did not add salt to the tomato sauce. Stir constantly for a while and then cover the pan to simmer it until it's time to assemble.
I did not give the quantities for the tomato sauce because I think this is a matter of taste, if you like lots of garlic, like me, add them, but if you don't just add the quantity to your taste, the same to all other ingredients.
♥ Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick and cook them just tender but not fully cooked.
♥ Generously coat the bottom of a large baking dish with extra-virgin olive oil. Place a layer of potatoes, and a layer of the tomato sauce over it. Add the fillet pieces and generously pour some extra-virgin olive oil over it. Repeat with another layer of potatoes, tomato sauce, fish and olive oil.
♥ Preheat oven to 350°F and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until you see the fish has started to flake.
♥ Serve with white rice, and here again I adjust the salt content according to the fish salt. For this dish I decided not to put salt in the rice to balance the overall salt content of the meal.