Bacalhau à Brás

This is one of the yummiest dishes I have EVER had here in Portugal. This country is well known for its love of Bacalhau, which is what they call salted cod. The whole fish is preserved in salt, has a slightly salty taste, and a smell that will chase you out of the grocery stores. But this fish is said to be good a thousand different ways.
But this version to TO DIE FOR!
Add some shoestring chips, a few eggs, and olives and you have what I would be happy with if it was my last meal. I know the idea of all these items combined together seems odd but it has the most amazing effect, making you instantly feel at home. After all, it is fish & chips with a twist =)

Ingredients:

1/2-kilo salted cod, soaked in water at least 24 hours before needed. *If you cannot find the traditional salted cod in your area, any whitefish will work
1/2-kilo potatoes *I actually used the shoestring chips you buy in the store since that is what is used here most often and cost so little to save a lot of time.
zest from 1 lemon
1 bunch parsley, chopped tops, saving the stalks
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin into discs
3 white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
olives, any sort to your taste *I used green with pimentos because that is what my hubby brought home for me =)
1 pinch chili powder
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 eggs
olive oil
vegetable oil for cooking

Instructions:

Fill a pot of water halfway with water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the salt cod, parsley stalks, shallots, and lemon peel. Poach for around 20 minutes, or until the cod starts to soften and flake apart.
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a wide skillet and add onions when hot enough. Season with black pepper and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and starting to caramelize, stirring regularly.
Tear the olives in half, taking out any stones, and place into a bowl. Add half the chopped parsley, the chili flakes, vinegar and 4 tbsp of olive oil. Mix well and set aside.
Remove the cod and take out any bones then flak into the onion mixture, adding some of the poaching liquid. Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.

*If you are doing your potatoes from scratch*
Peel the potatoes, then finely slice into matchsticks.
Just under half fill a sturdy pan with the vegetable oil – the oil should be 8cm deep, but never fill your pan more than half full – and place on a medium-high heat.
Use a thermometer to tell when it’s ready (170°C), or add a piece of potato and wait until it turns golden.
Working in batches, use a slotted spoon to carefully lower the matchsticks into the hot oil to cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very lightly golden. Stop at this point for half of the batch, which is what will go into the mixture later.
Transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain and repeat.
Take the other half of batch and cook a couple minutes longer, until golden brown and cooked completely.
Transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain and add sea salt.

*If you bought the shoestring chips*
Return the cod mixture to medium heat, then stir in most of the remaining chopped parsley.

Beat the eggs, then gently stir them into the pan.
Fold in half of the potato matchsticks and take the pan off the heat – the eggs will continue to cook in the pan, so make sure you don’t overcook them at this stage.
Transfer the bacalhau to a serving dish and top with the crispy potato fries. Using a slotted spoon, spoon over the marinated olives, then sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley on top.

Bom Apetite!
(Anyone who has been paying attention will notice the picture does not have any parsley. This is only because I didn’t have any on hand when I last made this, and there is a difference in flavor so do not skip adding it if you have it.)

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