Trader Joe’s Portuguese Bacalhau Tartelettes: Too Good to be This Cheap!

Buying Seafood

Good things come in small packages, and sometimes even with a small price tag. I went looking in the frozen food section at Trader Joe's and came across a box of Portuguese tartlets with bacalhau for just $1.99. It's too good a deal to pass up, even if Portuguese food isn't exactly my favorite.

In the past, I've had some less-than-good seafood both here in my hometown's predominantly Azorean community and in mainland Portugal. One of the most pungent fish markets I've ever been to was in Lisbon, so I was somewhat prepared for a “fishy” experience. I am very happy that my apprehension was ultimately proven wrong.

What are Cod Tarts?

I'm no expert on Portuguese cuisine, so I apologize if I misidentified the origins of these unique tartlets. To my eyes, it looks like Trader Joe's has combined two traditional Portuguese dishes into one delicious one-bite snack: Cod Pastry (also known as cod fritters) and the famous custard tarts known as Cream Pastry. In my travels, and right here in Gloucester, I've tried both, but I'm not sure this version is a traditional preparation. Traditional or not, according to the box, they are made in Portugal, which gives them a certain authenticity, in my opinion.

Trader Joe's packaging and products

Ingredients of bacalhau tartletsIngredients of bacalhau tartlets

The picture on the box looks much more similar to Cream Pastry of a typical Portuguese cod fritter. I have never seen a cod fritter that came in its own foil wrapper like a cupcake before. The cod fritters I ate at our restaurant Azores the restaurant looks more like nuggets than cupcakes. The ingredient list contained nothing scary and I was pleased to find real cod (bacalhau) included.

The box contained 8 well-frozen, foil-lined tartlets, which should serve two. I decided to treat them like an appetizer and ate the entire box myself in the name of research. The incredibly low price means it's basically a risk-free purchase, regardless of how they turn out.

Preparation of Portuguese cod tartlets

Making these cod snacks is as easy as preheating your oven to 375°F and placing them on a baking sheet for 35 minutes. When the tops look golden and bubbly, take them out and let them cool for about 15 minutes. That wait was probably the hardest part of all this.

I was worried that something with cod cooking in the oven would fill my house with a pungent, but not unusual, smell. Fresh cod has a very faint salty odor, skip code however… let's just say that the old Gloucester fish merchants said it was “the smell of money”.

Luckily there was little to no fishy smell and the aroma was actually very pleasant, as if I were making a fish cake. The rest of the family, who had already decided not to try the cod tarts, had to admit that they did smell really good.

The verdict

Cooked Portuguese bacalhau tartletsPortuguese Bacalhau Tarts Cooked

These were much, much better than I expected. A lovely mix of textures from the flaky crust, the soft potato and cod worked so well in the custard. My advice is to follow the instructions on the box and let them cool. Of course I had to try one right out of the oven and it was bacalhau lava!

Trust me, you will appreciate the flavor even more if you let them cool to almost room temperature. The cream will firm up and all the flavors will meld together. They didn't even taste fishy, ​​just a subtle but flavorful cod flavor. Potatoes, cream and cod are a great combination, who would have thought?

I think these might be a crowd pleaser Appetizers it's different enough to stand out from the usual. They are also incredibly cheap, which makes them even more attractive to try. I was worried at first, but for a few dollars it was worth it. If you have tried these tasty cod morsels, share your opinion in the comments.

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