I was looking recently for a recipe which used fish as its main ingredient and stumbled across the recipe for Bacalhau. I had never heard of this dish before and so decided to find out a little more about it.
Bacalhau is the national dish for Portugal. Bacalhau means codfish in Portuguese but the word usually means salt cod. Saltfish was very important at the time when the Portuguese began venturing out to explore other parts of the world in the 15th Century, and salted cod was high amongst the preserved foods taken to feed the sailors on the long trips at sea.
One of the reasons for the popularity of Bacalhau in Portugal is due to its relationship with the Catholic Religion. The Catholic Church forbid the eating of meat on several days throughout the year and so the Portuguese prepared dishes using fish.
Bacalhau is still eaten on days such as Christmas Eve and Good Friday.