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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bacalao fritters

ok, so that's just a fancy name for salt cod balls. we went out for dinner this weekend. our choice: Fonda Solana in albany. for you non-bay area types, that would be "berkeley lite".
one of the many dishes we had was a salt cod fritter, as named above. they were so good, i went out to the web to see if i could find a recipe that at least approximates the taste and texture of what we had in the restaurant. the following is what i think is a close match. this recipe was stolen from Maria's Cookbook at Maria-Brazil, in it's entirety.



1 pound salt cod

2 cups of mashed potatoes

2 tbsps of finely chopped parsley

2 large eggs

oil for frying

Soak salt cod overnight and during the morning, changing water three times. Drain, remove skin and any bones and cut in small chunks. The next step is poaching the cod. In Boston, I learned a great trick from Julia Child, who calls her fritters Aunt Priscilla's Codfish Balls (there's a Portuguese connection somewhere...) I always do it her way now. Simmer a small onion, thinly sliced, with a bay leaf and 4 peppercorns in 2 cups of water. After 5 minutes, add the cod and 2 cups of water. When it simmers, cover the pan and remove from heat, so the cod doesn't toughen. You can keep the cod in this liquid in the refrigerator until ready to use it.

To form the bolinhos: drain the fish and flake it well into a bowl. Add 2 cups of mashed potatoes; beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and add them to the fish and potatoes. Some cooks like to separate the eggs, adding first the yolks, then the beaten whites. Add the parsley (and if you want, 1 small chopped onion), salt and freshly grated pepper to taste. Wait about 1/2 hour to form the balls; they should be about 1 1/2 inches. Use good, fresh oil for frying (set deep-fryer temperature at 375°). Dry in paper towels.

now it's my turn for tweeks and variations. for a bit of a different taste, substitute cilantro for the parsley. you can also add a clove of crushed and finely minced garlic and 1/2 an onion very finely sliced to the mix as well. i think, but haven't tried this, that substituting fresh cracked crab meat for the cod, or at least a portion of the cod, would add a whole other dimension to these wonderful chunks of finger food.

we live around a bunch of portuguese, so getting dried salt cod is not an issue. if you don't, i found a store on line that carries it at The Vermont Country Store

i've had these from various restaurants and homes enough times to be something of an expert. i've had bad ones and good ones. the bad ones were usually the result of trying to rush the rehydrating process.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

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