Pastéis de Bacalhau

(Codfish Fritters)

Pastéis de Bacalhau
  • 10 ounces thick salted cod
  • 14 ounces floury (starchy) potatoes
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying

  • Rinse the cod well, under the tap, to wash away some of the surface salt, and place it in a roomy bowl, covering it with cold water. Change the water 4 to 5 times for a period of 12 hours (for very thin cuts) to 24 hours (for thicker cuts). Before cooking taste a few strands to make sure it's not excessively salty, even though it should preserve some saltiness, or it will be too bland.
  • Boil the potatoes (preferably boil the potatoes with their skins, so they do not absorb water); peel them and mash or sieve. Set aside.
  • Meantime, simmer the cod in enough boiling water to cover it, until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, discard the skin and bones and flake it as much as you can with your fingers, then with a fork, to diminish it to threads. (The proper way of doing this is to place the flaked cod inside a clean cloth, fold it and compress and pound the contents of the cloth with your fists. In this way you will have mashed cod.)
  • Combine this mass with the mashed potatoes and add the eggs, one by one, and then the onion and parsley. Taste for salt but you may not need to add any, as the cod itself retains enough saltiness, in spite of being soaked and boiled. (Avoid having cod cakes that are too salty). The combination should be quite stiff, allowing a spoon to stand up in it. If you find it excessively dry, add one or two tablespoons of milk. Permit this to cool completely before deep frying, as you would deep fry fish or chips.
  • With two tablespoons, shape the fishcakes like large eggs and place in the hot oil (370°F/190°C), turning them three or four times to get adequately browned all over. When cooked, lift them with a big fork or slotted spoon and place them on kitchen paper, to absorb excess fat. Go on molding and frying until you use up the mixture.

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