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!
- 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
- A day ahead, soak the cod in a large bowl of water, changing the water several times.
- Refrigerate the cod in a bag of fresh water, over-night.
- 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.
- Mash potatoes and add seasonings and egg yolks.
- 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.
- Add flaked cod to potato mixture and blend well.
- Form patties with the cod/potato mixture, as desired. Either large patties or small balls for the appetizer form.
- Heat a skillet with oil to about 350 degrees.
- 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.
- Serve with lemon.