Codfish, Potato and Onion Casserole – Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá


This is one of the most famous Portuguese Bacalhau recipes. It was invented at the beginning of the 20th century by a cook named José Luiz Gomes de Sá Júnior (his father was a Bacalhau trader himself ), who at the time worked in a restaurant in the city of Porto. His innovation was to marinate the cod flakes in warm milk in order to give the fish a softer texture. This dish is popular all over the country.


  • 450 g of dried salt cod
  • 6 cups of boiling water
  • 900 g of small white or new potatoes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley with freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 12 to 18 oil-cured black olives with additional chopped parsley


  • Soak the cod in water for some hours in the refrigerator, changing the water several times.

  • Drain and rinse well. Scald the cod portions for 3 minutes, until the fish flakes easily. Flake it into small pieces, removing any bones and bits of skin.

  • Place the cod in a pot or bowl, cover it with warm milk and let it rest for about an hour.

  • Boil the potatoes until tender but firm. Drain and allow to cool. Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until tender but not brown. Remove the onions and garlic from the skillet and set aside.

  • Add the sliced potatoes to the skillet, along with more olive oil if necessary, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir it frequently until golden brown.

  • Layer half the potatoes in a well-greased 2-quart casserole or gratin dish. Sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Add one third of the onion mixture, and half the cod. Repeat, ending with a layer of the onion mixture. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and lightly browned.

  • Arrange the egg wedges and olives attractively on top, and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley. Serve warm.