Espinheta Cod Salad (Espinheta de Bacalhau)

This is a traditional recipe with Cod, which can be a light and delicious appetizer or a salad served cold. The origin of Cod Espinheta is said to date back to Portugal of the Medieval times: in those days long distance travelers did not have many food options, and dried fish and the random ingredient at hand became your daily meal. Salty cod has become a staple food in Portugal and many other countries.

This takes us to this recipe, in which the cod is shredded and then combined in fresh water, olive oil, onion and garlic, and can be combined with whatever ingredients are available such as bread, olives and tomatoes. Also added to the recipe: seasoning with black pepper, which was a luxury in those days. This dish, in the Middle Ages was considered as unsophisticated, or food for the poor.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Total time:

Recipe for Espinheta de Bacalhau, the Cod Salad

* 2 filets of desalted cod (bones and skin can be removed after desalination)
* 1 big white onion, sliced in half moons
* Extra virgin olive oil of good quality
* Vinegar, as desired
* 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
* Few more unchopped parsley leaves, as garnish
* 1 red tomato, sliced in half moons
* Black or Kalamata Olives, pitted
* 1 chopped garlic clove,
* Hardboiled egg, sliced, as garnish (optional)


1) Desalinate the cod by leaving it in water for 18 hours, changing the water 3 times. We want to lower the salty cod’s saltiness substantially but not eliminate it altogether.

2) When you are ready to prepare the Espinheta, slice the onion and put it in a bowl with vinegar and some water - then leave it there for 15 minutes; this will subdue the onion’s intense signature taste.

3) Shred the cod, raw, to a serving dish, add the sliced onion, the parsley and season with oil and vinegar to taste.

4) Decorate with the tomatoes, the olives, the hardboiled eggs if you chose to use them, and the intact parsley leaves

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