Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod and in a culinary context dried and salted cod. Bacalhau dishes are common in Portugal. There is said to be over 1000 recipes in Portugal alone and it can be considered the iconic ingredient of Portuguese cuisine.
It is often cooked on social occasions and is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner in some parts of the country. Bacalhau is often served with potatoes.
Salt cod has been produced for at least 500 years, since the time of the European discoveries of the New World. Before refrigeration, there was a need to preserve the cod; drying and salting are ancient techniques to preserve nutrients and the process makes the cod tastier.
Low in oil and fat
More importantly, fish low in oils and fats allow for the drying and preservation process to occur: oils and fats prevent the salt water from preserving the fish. Cod fish have very low levels of oils, and most is located in the guts.