The origin of the recipes
À Gomes de Sá codfish
It all started in a restaurant called Lisbonense, located in the city of Porto.
José Luís Gomes de Sá (1851-1926), son of a codfish merchant, created the recipe that ended up taking his name and became an icon of traditional Portuguese cuisine. À Gomes de Sá Codfish.
As in other cod recipes, the basic ingredients are codfish, potatoes and olive oil. This dish is characterised by the delicacy of the very soft cod flakes, which stand out from the other ingredients.
À Zé do Pipo codfish
The north of Portugal (where the first cod-fishing boats started to arrive in the country) has always stood out as a stage for the creation of codfish recipes.
Another example created in the city of Porto, a true classic today, is À Zé do Pipo Codfish.
This was the nickname of the creator of the recipe, José Valentim, the owner of a restaurant in Porto, who made the dish for the first time in 1940 to enter a culinary competition.
In his recipe, codfish is served with mashed potatoes and mayonnaise, and is then gratinated.
À Brás codfish
This recipe originated in Lisbon in the 19th century.
Its creator, called Braz, was the owner of a tavern in the popular Bairro Alto, and was the one who came up with the combination of shredded codfish with chips and, in the end, whisked eggs.
This is one of the most popular Portuguese recipes, and this simple and delicious combination – now called Brás – has become a side dish reinterpreted by chefs and cooks in the most varied dishes.
Codfish and chips
Did you know that in England and Northern Ireland fish and chips is a dish traditionally prepared with codfish?
The recipe consisting of a portion of fried fish coated in batter, served with chips, was born in Britain, and is full of history and trivia.
Popular among the working classes in England, the recipe was considered cheap and fast. The first known record of a fish and chips store in London dates back to 1860.
With rapidly growing trawling in the North Seas in the 19th century, the mixture of high-quality fish and more affordable fish in the nets was increasingly common.
Instead of throwing unmarketable fish into the sea, these species were transported to the cities of the countryside of England, giving rise to the most varied, rapid and affordable recipes.
Originating in the Jewish culture, fried fish had been present on European tables for many years served with chips, which appeared in the mid-17th century.
The recipe was typically served in newspaper and used different types of fish, but cod and haddock were the most common options. In Northern Ireland, cod is the fish of choice.
Equally important, the dish has become popular in countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as South Africa
LUTEFISK – codfish with caustic soda
Typically produced in Norway, the lutefisk cod recipe involves soaking codfish in a caustic soda solution for a few days, together with potassium hydroxide in a sort of caustic soda brine.
It then goes through a “cleaning” process – it is steamed until it dries and served with a gravy that may be made with butter, together with a glass of beer.
Due to the lack of large salt deposits, caustic soda was a quick remedy for fish conservation in Norway.
Consumed also in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and even the United States, this recipe is traditionally served at Christmas.
In line with what happens in Portugal, due to religious fasting, fish has become the perfect meal for this holiday over the centuries.
“Above all, the Nordic peoples eat dried fish such as pike, perch, bream, burbot… To make this recipe, these fish are soaked in a caustic soda solution for two days. This is followed by a day in clean, pure water, to make it as soft as necessary. It is then boiled with an addition of salted butter, and can even be served at the princes’ tables as a tasteful and delicious dish,” explains Olaus Magnus, historian.