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

Trader Joe's Portuguese Bacalhau Tartelettes

Good things come in small packages, and sometimes with a small price tag as well. I went searching in the Trader Joe’s frozen section and came across a box of Portuguese Bacalhau Tartelettes for only $1.99. That is too good of a deal to pass up even though Portuguese food is not exactly my favorite.

In the past, I’ve had some not so great seafood both here among my town’s mostly Azorean community, and also 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 glad that my apprehension was proven wrong in the end.

What are Bacalhau Tartelettes?

I am not an expert on Portuguese cuisine, so I apologize if I misidentify the origins of these unique tartlettes. To my eye, it looks like Trader Joe’s have paired two Portuguese favorites into one delicious bite-size snack: Pasteis de Bacalhau (aka cod fritters) and the famous custard dessert tarts known as Pasteis de Nata. In my travels, and right here in Gloucester, I’ve tried both of these but I’m not sure if this version is a traditional preparation. Traditional or not, according to the box, they are made in Portugal so that gives them some authenticity in my book.

Trader Joe’s Packaging and Product

bacalhau tartelettes ingredients

The image on the box looks much more similar to Pasteis de Nata than a typical Portuguese cod fritter. I have not seen a cod fritter that came in its own foil liner like a cupcake before. The bacalhau fritters I’ve had in our local Azorean restaurant look more like croquettes than cupcakes. The list of ingredients did not contain anything scary and I was pleased to find real salt cod (bacalhau) included.

The box contained 8 well-frozen, foil lined tartelettes, which should serve two. I decided to treat these like an entree and ate the whole box myself in the name of research. The incredibly low price means it is basically a risk-free purchase not matter how they turn out.

Preparing the Portuguese Bacalhau Tartelettes

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

I was worried that something with salt cod cooking in the oven would fill my house with a pungent, but not unfamiliar odor. Fresh cod has a very faint briny smell, salt cod however…let’s just say the old time Gloucester fish dealers said it was the “smell of money.”

Fortunately there was little to no fish smell and the aroma was actually very pleasing, like I was making a fish pie. The rest of the family, who already opted out of trying the bacalhau tartelettes, had to admit they smelled really good.

The Verdict

Portuguese Bacalhau Tartelettes cooked

These were way, way better than I expected. A delicious mix of textures from the flaky crust, the soft potato and the cod all worked so well in the custard. My advice it to follow what the box says and let them cool down. Of course I had to try one just a few minutes out of the oven and it was bacalhau lava!

Trust me, you will enjoy the flavor even more if you let them cool to nearly room temperature. The custard firms up and all the flavors meld together. There was nothing fishy tasting about them either, just a subtle but tasty cod flavor. Potatoes, custard and cod are a great match – who knew?

I feel these would be a crowd-pleasing hors d’oeuvre that is just different enough to stand out from the usual. They are also incredibly cheap, which makes them even more appealing to try out. I was apprehensive at first but for a few dollars, it was so worth it. If you have tried these tasty cod morsels please share your thoughts in the comments.