Salt Cod Cakes – Portuguese Pasteis de Bacalhau

Salt Cod Cakes - Portuguese Pasteis de Bacalhau, Dried Cod Cakes, Cod Cakes from Salted Cod

Salt Cod Cakes – Portuguese Pasteis de Bacalhau

When I was a girl, I knew a Portuguese woman who made these codfish cakes often.  There is a soft spot in my heart for her, so every time I see a box of salt cured cod in the grocery store, I have to buy some to make them.  The salt curing of the cod makes the fish sweet, delicious, and not the least “fishy” tasting. 

Bacalhau (dried salted codfish) is a staple of the Portuguese diet and these cakes are just one example of how the fish is used.  I’ve also had them cooked up in small balls and served like a fritter would be, as an appetizer.

Because the cod is dried, it has to be re-hydrated before you can make these cakes, but the advanced preparation is well worth the effort.  I just plan the day ahead, remove the cod from the package and put it in a bowl of cold water.  I’ll change the water several times (this helps move the salt out of the fish), then put the fish pieces into a large zip-lock bag, over-night, with more water.

I’ve read that some people use fresh cod for this dish, but there is something about the total lack of any fishiness in the dried cod that makes me hesitant to try that method.  Not living in a place where really fresh fish is readily available makes these cakes the perfect answer to that dilemma.

Not only that, these cod cakes are just scrumptious!  I hope you’ll give them a try!


Salt-Dried Cod Cakes - Portuguese Pasteis de Bacalhau
Salt-Dried Cod Cakes...a staple of the Portuguese diet...they blend the sweetness of the cod with potatoes and herbs to create a bit of zip in a fried fish/potato cake.
  • 16 oz. dried, salted cod (Bacalhau)
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup corn meal
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1 lemon
  1. A day ahead, soak the cod in a large bowl of water, changing the water several times.
  2. Refrigerate the cod in a bag of fresh water, over-night.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add potatoes and onion and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Place prepared cod in the potato water and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Mash potatoes and add seasonings and egg yolks.
  5. Drain the cod and place in a small bowl. Flake into small bits with a fork. Most packaged cod I've used doesn't have bones, but remove any bones or skin, if you find them.
  6. Add flaked cod to potato mixture and blend well.
  7. Form patties with the cod/potato mixture, as desired. Either large patties or small balls for the appetizer form.
  8. Heat a skillet with oil to about 350 degrees.
  9. Coat patties with flour/corn meal mixture and add them gently to the oil, one at a time. Fry until golden brown, turning only once. Carefully.
  10. Serve with lemon.

I just love the boxes the cod comes in…

The re-hydrating cod…

Fully prepared and flaked…

The mashed potatoes with herbs and egg yolks…notice how I left the potatoes a bit lumpy? I think that compliments the chunks of cod for the cakes…

Mix in the cod…

Form into patties…

Coat with corn meal/flour mixture…

Fry until golden brown…this takes about 5 minutes on each side…only turn once.

About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
This entry was posted in Appetizers, Entrée, Fish, Fried Foods. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Salt Cod Cakes – Portuguese Pasteis de Bacalhau

  1. Sarah Myers says:

    Oh yum…I LOVE THESE!! Thanks for posting them. 🙂 <3

  2. taina says:

    How did I miss these! Thank you! – I bet fresh cod would be tough to use also because fresh cod tends to break into flakes as it is fried… maybe the dried and re-hydrated process makes it easier to manage into cakes?

    (I love fresh cod and the fishy fishiness of it! – but this recipe sounds totally worth trying!)

    • P~ says:

      Taina, I think you could try the fresh cod (I just can’t ever get any here)…I’ve always used the salted cod because that is the way I was taught. The potatoes will help hold together any flaking of the fish (The re-hydrated cod is flaky too). You might need to adjust the salt, as it would likely take more with fresh fish.

      I do hope you’ll try them!!! P~

  3. Arturo says:

    I had the chance to visit Portugal last year and loved these cakes. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. emma says:

    What’s a good sauce to go with it? Plum sauce? Tried ketchup, mayo – did not work out.

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