Happy Monday, friends! Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about where we want to travel to. It’s been so long since travel has been a common occurrence and, while it totally makes sense and is necessary, it also makes me so sad. I miss going on adventures and meeting new people and eating new foods!
However, I’m so thankful that I’ve had so many amazing adventures including one to Lisbon where I got to take a cooking class and learned how to make salted cod stew. This cooking class was SO FUN. It was led by a guy who everyone called Moustache (he had a truly great moustache) who was from Lisbon and worked at the hostel I stayed at. He told us about how his family had made this stew since he was young and why salted cod was used and the history behind the dish in the country.
Part of making the stew in Lisbon is soaking the cod in water for quite a while, since it’s salted cod. He had started that before our cooking class started, but we talked about it and then he asked who was going to do a shot of the salty cod water now that the fish had finished soaking. I absolutely did it and it tasted exactly how you’re imagining it would – I wouldn’t recommend it, but I also wouldn’t trade those memories for anything! I have a couple of low-quality pictures from back then that I just love:
My version of cod stew is loosely based on what we made in Lisbon, but I used what I had at my disposal. It came out looking pretty different, but it’s so tasty and reminiscent of the original. Let’s look at the components:
- the fish – salted cod was traditionally used for this dish, but I had some frozen cod so I used that instead, so I got to skip the step of soaking the fish in water before using it. I don’t cook with fish terribly often so I can’t say much about substitutes, but I think cod is a relatively firm fish so I figure any other firm fish would work just as well!
- the veg – when we made this in Lisbon, we used fresh tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and onion. I used a big can of tomatoes instead, kept the carrots, garlic, and onion, and added some frozen spinach that I had in the freezer. Use up what you’ve got!
- the liquid – the tomatoes bring a lot of liquid to this party, but in LIsbon we added some water and white wine to round it out. I didn’t have any wine so I skipped that but I did have some stock that I threw in. Use what you’ve got! Just keep in mind that the type of liquid you use may have an impact on salt levels so taste as you go and adjust
- the beans – we used them in Lisbon so I threw them in! If you don’t like beans you can totally leave them out
- the seasonings – in Lisbon, we used piripiri in addition to salt and pepper to season the stew. I didn’t have piripiri so I used a bit of a spicy cajun seasoning I’ve got, but I think you could use so many different things! I think something with a bit of a kick is ideal, but do whatever sounds good to you
This is a really fun one to make and honestly tastes so, so good. All the elements come together and because there are so few, quality does make a big difference here. I’m honestly so excited to eat this for lunch this week and be reminded of my adventures every day.
makes 5-6 servings
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 2 small carrots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 2-3 cups seafood or chicken broth, or water
- 1 box frozen spinach
- 1 can white beans, drained
- 1 lb cod
- salt and pepper to taste
- piripiri or other spice mix, to taste
- rice or rolls, for serving (optional)
How to do it
- prep: chop the onion and carrots into small pieces and mince the garlic. cut the cod into 1″ pieces and set aside
- start the veg: in a large dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onions and carrots along with a large pinch of salt. cook until the onions are translucent, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes
- add the liquids: add the bay leaves, tomatoes, spinach, and broth to the pot and increase the heat to medium high. bring to a simmer and let cook until the carrots are soft, about 8-10 minutes. taste and adjust seasoning as desired
- add the fish: turning the heat down to medium, add the beans, fish, and a bit of your spice mix. let cook for about 5 minutes
- taste and enjoy: taste the stew and adjust seasoning as desired. serve with rice or rolls and enjoy! If using for meal prep, store in an airtight container and reheat either on the stovetop or microwave.
Growing up, there was always some salt cod in the refrigerator! This looks really tasty, and I’m sure it was even better using the frozen fish.
I actually never had cod before I traveled and made this stew the first time! This version came out so well, I hope you get to try it out!