A not very Portuguese fish omelette

Regarding the title of this recipe, I have quite a number of Portuguese friends (I love Portugal) and I have to apologise to all of them… the whole nation in fact… as there is no longer anything remotely Portuguese about this omelette.

It is true, however, that the inspiration for this dish comes from a recipe for Bacalhau à Brás – confit of cod with eggs and crispy potatoes. But it is also true to say that this version has morphed into a version hardly recognisable. In Bacalhau à Brás the salted cod (not everybody’s cup of tea) is cooked until ultra-soft, into a confit. It’s then folded into a sort of very soft scrambled eggs, together with some matchstick-thin, fried to a crisp, chips.

My version does not aspire to such culinary giddy heights… but as an unusual weekday supper it will delight.

It goes particularly well with a tomato salad and James’ crispy fried potatoes.

Recipe for Portuguese Fish Omelette

Serves 2


  • 300g/11 oz frozen cod or hake
  • milk to cover
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • a few grinds of nutmeg
  • couple of peppercorns – ideally Indonesian long pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • about 10 pitted black olives – not the type in brine. Cut each in half.
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbsps flat leaf parsley
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Peel and chop the onion, and fry gently for about ten minutes until nearly translucent. Add the garlic, continue to fry gently for a couple more minutes. Put onion and garlic into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Put the fish into the frying pan, just cover with milk, add the bay leaf, nutmeg, and peppercorns. Simmer gently for about five minutes on each side.
  3. Break the eggs into the bowl with the onion and garlic. Grind over some black pepper. snip over most of the parsley.
  4. Flake the fish into the egg mixture, and add about four tbsps. of any remaining poaching milk. Beat the mixture well.
  5. Wipe out the frying pan, and add a little more olive oil. Once hot, pour in the egg mixture. Make your omelette in the usual way. If you have never made an omelette before, follow the instructions here…
  6. Serve, garnished with the olives and the remaining parsley.
fish omelette recipe
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