Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod, commonly understood to mean salted and dried cod. Bacalhau is not a meal per se, but quickly transforms a humble bachelor meal into something delicious.
Well, OK, I say quickly because it takes only minutes to cook, but the preparation of salt fish takes some planning ahead. Salted cod, or Bacalhau, needs to soak in water for at least 24 hours, with fresh water and a rinse at least 3 times over that period.
As I discovered years after writing this recipe initially, the simple solution to making this a true quickie is not to use salted cod. In essence, don’t make Bacalhau. Instead we use smoked Haddock, the undied lightly smoked Haddock available from most fish counters in the UK. Just skin it and flake it into the potatoes a few minutes before adding the eggs.
It also helps to have some steamed potatoes ready, preferably young and clean ones of a waxy variety with their skin on. We often have some left-over potatoes, and this dish is just the perfect way to use them.
Heat a frying pan to moderate heat, melt a tablespoon of butter and an equal amount of olive oil. Cut the potatoes into chunky pieces and fry them gently.
After a few minutes, add a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves, a handful of chopped spring onions, and flakes of soaked and rinsed Bacalhau. I use about the same volume of potatoes and fish. Add pepper, but be careful with salt, as your fish might still bring in more than enough.
Toss the mixture about for a minute, then crack two eggs over it.
I don’t want to scramble the dish, so I put a lid on for 3 minutes. This allows the egg to set through the trapped heat. Remove the lid and add a generous amount of capers. Allow some of the juices to evaporate and serve with a crisp white wine or, if the fish has a lot of salt left, a lot of water.
Simply, savoury and utterly delicious, cooked in minutes but requires some planning.