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Pasteis de Bacalhau: The Gift from the Sea

Bacalhau usually refers to the salted and dried codfish that can be stored for a longer time compared to fresh codfish. Portuguese fishing traditions in the North Atlantic developed before the invention of refrigeration, which started in the 15th century. Drying and salting techniques, invented by human beings, are practised to preserve this gift from the sea. By the late 1700s, codfish had become a cheap source of protein and nutrition for the Portuguese people who lived by the sea and became an indispensable ingredient of Portuguese cuisine. You can easily see codfish in any cooking method: stew, fried, grilled, boiled, roasted, or even steamed. Pastel de Bacalhau, which can be translated to codfish cake, is more like a snack rather than a main dish like other traditional Portuguese seafood. The mixture of cod fish with onion and potato will not fill you up but rather satisfy you. To add some flavour, people sometimes add cheese to its centre. The small ball with the crunchy outside and the soft, creamy inside hides the treasure of the sea and the wisdom of life itself.

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