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Pastéis de Bacalhau | Salt Cod Fritters

A close up of an oval plate with 3 salt cod fritters and a lemon wedge, one is being cut into with a knife and fork.
These Portuguese salt cod fritters, called pastéis de bacalhau, are made with salt cod, potato, onion, and parsley and are fried for a traditional Portuguese treat.
Edite Vieira

Prep 45 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
Snacks
Portuguese
24 to 30 hors d'oeuvres
58 kcal

Equipment

  • Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer

Ingredients 

  • 10 ounces salted cod preferably thick pieces, soaked overnight
  • 14 ounces russet potatoes unpeeled
  • 1 small onion very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 large eggs
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Directions 

  • Boil the potatoes (preferably in their skins, so the potatoes don't absorb water). Peel the potatoes and mash or sieve them. Set aside.
  • Meantime, simmer the cod in enough boiling water to cover until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the cod, discard the skin and bones, and flake the fish as much as you can with your fingers or a fork to reduce it to threads. (The proper way of doing this is to place the flaked cod inside a clean cloth, fold it and squeeze and pound the contents of the cloth with your fists. In this way you will have mashed cod.)
  • Mix the cod with the mashed potatoes and add the eggs, 1 by 1, and then the onion and parsley. Taste and, if desired, season with salt. You may not need to add any, as the cod itself retains quite a lot of saltiness, in spite of being soaked and boiled. The mixture should be quite stiff, enabling a spoon to stand up in it. If you find it excessively dry, add one or two tablespoons of milk. Allow this to cool completely before deep frying.
  • With two tablespoons, shape the fishcakes like large eggs and place them in the hot oil (370°F/190°C), turning them three or four times to get nicely 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.