In reality, you can't separate one from the other, but the truth is that this food, so traditional in our culture, is not a Portuguese product. Curious, isn't it? Our country is the largest per capita consumer of codfish in the world, hence this strong connection between the two.

Codfish appeared in Portugal during the Age of Discoveries. It is living proof of trade and cultural exchange. During the Age of Discoveries, several Portuguese navigators, such as Vasco da Gama, brought goods, food, and treasures from other cultures to introduce to those who stayed in the country what they had discovered. One of these treasures brought by explorers was codfish. Brought from the cold waters of the North Atlantic, this fish caught the attention of the Portuguese for its abundance and the fact that it could be easily preserved through salting and drying, making it a reliable source of food during long sea voyages.

Portuguese fishermen then started crossing the Atlantic to fish for cod. They caught it, salted it, dried it, and only then brought it back to Portugal. And that's how Portuguese love for codfish was born.

But the legacy of codfish extends beyond borders. As Portuguese sailors discovered new lands, they left their marks on the cuisines of the countries they encountered. Mixed with the culture of each country, codfish can now also be found in Brazil, Macau, and Cape Verde.

"Bacalhau com Todos" (Codfish with Everything)

Codfish is a very versatile fish and can be easily combined with various ingredients, which is why it is the main element in so many traditional dishes in our cuisine. From the simplest recipes, like codfish boiled with chickpeas, to the more complex ones, like Bacalhau à Brás, this fish is present in both modest and sophisticated restaurants. Those who taste it never forget its flavor, which is why our country is often sought after by food enthusiasts eager to try delicacies made with codfish.

Credits: envato elements; Author: motghnit;

In summary, codfish is indeed made in Portugal, but the main ingredient, the Cape Cod fish (as it is called before going through the drying process), has always been an import. In the culinary world, few dishes have surpassed their place of origin to become a landmark in another country's gastronomy, as was the case with codfish. Despite its humble origins, it has become a symbol of our gastronomic culture. The history of codfish is undoubtedly a testament to the power of trade and cultural exchange in shaping the nations that exist today.

We can say that despite this fish, so admired by the Portuguese, not being born in our country, it has been embraced and adopted by all of us. Today, it holds significance in our cuisine as few ingredients do. Codfish is not just a dish; it's a reflection of Portugal's history and the country's ability to create something uniquely its own, even when the main ingredient comes from distant lands.


Cláudia Ferreira, who holds a degree in Communication Sciences from Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, is currently serving as the assistant director and commercial representative at Casaiberia.

Cláudia Ferreira