28 April 2011

Bacalhau Fajitas

Fajitas are not Portuguese. Let's get that out there, right at the beginning.  Bacalhau Boy (the husband's new blog identity) had never eaten one before he met me.  And traditional fajita fillings?  Roasted red peppers, jalapenos, hot and spicy seared steak or chicken, guacamole, salsa, sour cream-- definitely delicious, but not in the least way Iberian.

But as much as I love those spicy flavors, my favorite part of fajitas is not their distinctive taste.  It is the genius of the soft tortilla as a food delivery system.  Think about it-- you pick and choose your fillings right at the table. You create a single serving, of-the-moment buffet in a soft floury shell.  And it is seriously fun to eat.   

So since it is a genius system that seems perfectly adaptable to other flavors, the only remaining question is:

If fajitas were Portuguese, what would they be filled with?

Well, to start with, they would contain bacalhau.  That part is easy.

And the role of "roasted peppers" will be played by "kale."  Kale sautéed with a lot of garlic.

Tomatoes can stay, like in the original, but not as a spicy salsa.  How about dressed with nothing but some fresh chopped parsley and olive oil?

And the cool smooth spready texture that could be added by guacamole or sour cream... hmmm.  I can't think of a better candidate for this than some typical queijo amanteigado, runny and tangy and easy to spread right on the tortilla itself.

Speaking of the tortilla, I used some storebought Old El Pasos, but I also tried my hand at a fantastic homemade tortilla recipe from the King Arthur Flour site.  It mixes cornmeal with the flour, something pretty unorthodox in tortilla-making from what I hear.  Which actually makes them the perfect tortillas for this recipe.

Ready to Roll

The verdict? Bacalhau Boy was impressed.  He was a fajita convert before this little experiment, but he was raving about them now.  He even surprised me by loving the kale-- the vegetable portion of the dish! As for me, I was thrilled to have created a bacalhau recipe which made a gen-u-ine Portuguese person say the flavors were very familiar, and which gave me a reason to eat tortillas more often.

4 out of 5 Fins
This is easy to make, has all the fun and customization features of the original, and tastes lovely.  The best thing, perhaps, is that can be a template for even more Portuguese-inspired filling ideas.

Bacalhau Fajitas
serves 4

8 soft flour tortillas (storebought, or the easy and quick KAF recipe here)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups shredded kale
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp of fresh parsley
1 pound of bacalhau, desalted and shredded into chunks
1 onion, chopped
Queijo Amanteigado
(Any strong, soft cheese will work, but you can buy online if you want the real Portuguese stuff.  Try this site, or this one.)

1. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat, and cook until oil is just shimmering.  Add the chooped garlic and stir in the oil for about 30 seconds, then add the kale. Cook, stirring occasionally to mix the ingredients, until garlic is golden and the kale is limp and even a bit crispy on some edges.  When ready, put the kale in a bowl and set aside, reserving the pan to use for the bacalhau.

2. In the meantime, put the chopped cherry tomatoes together with the parsley and 1 tbsp of olive oil, tossing to mix.  Set aside.

3. Put the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in the nonstick sauté pan over medium heat, and cook until the oil is just shimmering.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the bacalhau and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquids have evaporated and the bacalhau is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

4. Serve the bacalhau, kale, and tomatoes with the tortillas and the cheese.  Construct your fajitas at the table, roll them up, and enjoy!


  1. Ola amiga, geeeeeeee... I tried Fajitas before but never really thought about adapting it to the Portuguese cuisine way. Interesting blending actually, kudos for you. Maybe you should start doing more fusion style dishes ;). It's not the promised creamy codfish, but it's fenomenal!!!
    PS: Since you're trying to use portuguese ingredients, how about some slices of chouriço or linguiça??

  2. Haha, thanks! Chouriço and linguica sound excellent with this, great idea. They would add some spiciness, which this could have used more of, I think.

    And don't fear, the promised creamy codfish recipe is the next one I will post. The cod for that one is soaking even as I type, and I'll be making it this weekend. Só precisa esperar mais um bocadinho!