Paleo Bacalhau a Bras Recipe (Salted Cod Sweet Potato Hash)
This is a delicious and simple cod and sweet potato hash recipe. The recipe is based on the famous Portuguese dish, Bacalhau à Brás. But it has been carefully modified to fit the Paleo diet. So enjoy this taste of Portugal from anywhere in the world.
Portuguese Seafood Cuisine
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to experience food from other cultures. And Portugal has delicious food that most of us are completely unaware of.
Portugal has a large coastline and has traditionally made good use of that coastline by having a large fishing industry as well as some of the best seafarers in history.
If you’ve ever visited Lisbon, the Algarve, or any other part of the Portuguese coast, then you’ll know that many restaurants feature fresh fish (from sardines (sardinha) and sword fish (peixe espada) to ones I’ve never come across before like corvina).
And you will most definitely have come across Bacalhau (AKA salted cod)…
What is Bacalhau and Why Do They Eat It In Portugal?
Bacalhau is dehydrated salted cod. It’s pretty much the national food in Portugal, and the running joke is that there are 365 different ways to prepare Bacalhau!
(Don’t worry, even if you don’t have access to salted cod, you can still make this dish – just use fresh or frozen cod instead.)
But what you might not have come across is the fact that cod is a cold water fish found much further north of Portugal. In order to bring the cod back on the long ocean-crossings, Portuguese fisherman learned to salt and dry the cod.
As a result of this preservation method, salted cod became a popular ingredient in many dishes.
Popular Bacalhau dishes in Portugal
Here are just a few of the Bacalhau dishes you’ll find in Portugal:
- Bolinho de bacalhau (fried cod croquettes)
- Bacalhau à lagareiro (cod cooked in olive oil)
- Bacalhau espiritual (creamy cod bake)
- Pataniscas de bacalhau (fish cakes)
Here’s what the Bacalhau à lagareiro (cod cooked in olive oil) looks like (it’s often served with boiled potatoes and vegetables).
And here’s the Pataniscas de bacalhau (fish cakes):
And of course, there’s also the famous Bacalhau à Brás.
What is Bacalhau à Brás?
Bacalhau à Brás (or Bacalhau à Braz) is perhaps one of the most popular bacalhau dishes. Legend has it that a tavern owner called Braz in the Bairro Alto area of Lisbon came up with the dish.
Traditionally, it features flaked cod, fried shredded potatoes, onion slices, scrambled eggs, parsley, and olives.
Here’s the Bacalhau à Brás I had at Café Lisboa in Chiado, Lisbon with exploding olives:
Paleo Bacalhau à Brás Recipe (Salted Cod Sweet Potato Hash)
I converted the traditional bacalhau a bras recipe to fit a Paleo diet by making the following simple changes:
- Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. I went with Japanese sweet potatoes, which are white on the inside so that it would resemble white potatoes better. Why aren’t potatoes Paleo? Excellent question – and I wrote about it here. And if you’re ok with sweet potatoes and don’t have an autoimmune condition, the white potatoes are probably fine for you!
- Coconut oil instead of olive or canola oil. I felt that the mild coconut flavor would enhance the sweet potato taste. And I definitely didn’t want to use any non-Paleo vegetable or seed oils to cook with.
- Fresh cod instead of bacalhau. It’s tough to find bacalhau outside of a few countries, so I suggest using regular fresh or frozen cod instead (or you can even use other types of fish). Then just add salt to taste.
- 1–1.5 lb (450 – 680 g) cod filets, defrosted (make sure to remove bones)
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (approx. 700–900 g)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Small handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 30 olives, sliced
- Salt to taste
- Poach the cod or oven roast it or pan fry it. It just needs to be cooked first. Then flake it.
- Add the coconut oil to a large pan or pot (alternatively you can make a smaller batch). Cook the onion and sweet potato in the coconut oil until softened.
- Add in the flaked cod, parsley, olives, and season with salt to taste.
All nutritional data are estimated and based on per serving amounts.
- Calories: 427
- Sugar: 9 g
- Fat: 16 g
- Carbohydrates: 43 g
- Fiber: 7 g
- Protein: 26 g