A fish that sparked a national obsession


This influence has extended to countries like Brazil, which imported 8.6 tonnes of salt cod during the Easter period alone in 2019, or Angola, which imported 308 tonnes of salt cod from Norway in 2012, according to the History Interpretation Center. Codfish, Lisbon’s museum dedicated to fish. In Italy, they even hold an annual salt cod festival, Festa del Bacala, near Venice, and in the Tuscany region they favor classics such as baccala alla livornesewhich marries salted cod with a rich garlicky tomato sauce.

For other chefs in Portugal, salt cod bridges the past and the present. Like Marlene Vieira, judge MasterChef Portugal, head chef at two Lisbon restaurants and the only female face within the chef’s wing of Lisbon’s Time Out Market, where her salted cod pataniscas (doughnuts) have earned him accolades.

She explained how the donut recipe was passed down to her by her grandmother, who came from a poor background. This meant that she generally used the cheaper fishtail cuts in the batter, which had less moisture and gave a crisper “tempura-like” finish – a great companion for the roasted red pepper and garlic mayonnaise. garlic that Vieira now serves with.

As a child, she remembers helping her grandmother in the kitchen “with the things she wouldn’t like to do”, such as peeling the onions, the garlic and of course carefully removing the remaining bones in the cod. salty.

Today, while giving a nod to tradition, Vieira is keen to further promote fish as well as local seafood in Portugal – and her upscale restaurant Marlene is focusing on that. She even cooks it at home for her daughter, who she says “loves, loves, loves cod” – perhaps proof that despite the efforts the country has to make to secure this North Atlantic fish, the passion for this one will continue to flow. in Portuguese veins for generations to come.


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