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If you ever go to Portugal, there’s one thing you have to try at least once: bacalhau. Honestly, bacalhau, is just the Portuguese word for cod. What’s fairly unique about it in Portugal is the way it’s been preserved: with salt. This tradition dates back to the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula and has been maintained since, the main difference being that most of the fish caught nowadays comes from Norway.

In my experience salted cod is endemic to Portugal and is hard to find abroad. One has to rely on a dedicated Portuguese shop. It requires some forethought to cook, as it has to be soaked for 24-48 hours beforehand. The salting process leaves you with a particularly salty fish, so you should add minimal amounts of salt when cooking. What’s easier to use is the fish that’s been salted, soaked, and frozen (demolhado e ultra-congelado is the slogan to a popular brand in Portugal). These tend to have lost most of the salt, so adding salt while cooking isn’t as delicate a process.

There are a fabled thousand-and-one ways of cooking it. Espiritual, à Gomes Sá, com natas, cozido com todos, roupa velha… we even have two types of bacalhau fish cakes! What I wanted to share with you this time is a widespread classic that is relatively simple to make: bacalhau à brás. Continue reading

I think the Universe is telling me something…

Hi! Welcome to the kitchen! Today’s theme, apparently, is symbolism!

Since the beginning of the year I’ve developed a slight obsession with filo/phyllo pastry. This, I believe, is the lovechild of my wanting to get acquainted with various types of pastry and my having Hellenic friends. That and look at how cool this is!

A few months ago I was back at my mother’s place and decided that her kitchen counter, despite the clutter, was ideal for me to attempt making filo. The reason? Marble. I had somehow internalised that marble was the ideal surface for the feat. The whole thing would fail for other reasons.

I decided to try to make galaktoboureko (here’s a video recipe), but with a twist: instead of semolina custard, I would use filling from pastéis de nata (aka Portuguese egg tarts). Symbolism part 1: luso-hellenic relationships (aka Dav inadvertently surrounds himself with Greeks and Cypriots). Continue reading

Fudge about it

At one point this February, I was to meet people of potential importance in my life. Obviously, I wanted them to like me and rather than charm and polite my way through tests and hurdles (which were in my own head), I decided to do what any socially awkward, culinary-inclined internet-dweller might do: bribe them with food.

I had been told in good confidence that they had a sweet tooth, so something on the confectionary side of things was in order. The more sugar, the better. I also wanted to send a parcel to a friend, so it would help if I could make more of it in one go (look at me, managing time like an adult). The answer? Fudge.  Continue reading