Codfish Fritters or Bolinhos de Bacalhau, as they are known in Portuguese, is a dish commonly found in Brazil and Portugal. It’s made with dry salted Codfish. You can find salted Codfish at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and markets that carry South American specialties. I decided to recruit my step-father Carlos, as the guest cook for this recipe. He has made this dish on many occasions, so we decided to make it together.
The traditional recipe calls for potatoes, but comes out even better when you use Yucca root, better known as Cassava. The fritters go really well as an appetizer with a nice cold beer.
Most important step! Soak the salted Cod fillets overnight in water. Change the water at least three times. This step removes the salt from the fish. If this is not done properly, you will be left with fish that is way too salty. Carlos was so kind to bring the fish already soaked and drained, ready to go.
Take 2 lbs of frozen Cassava,
Place in a large pot to boil until tender.
Clean the codfish of any bones or skin, and shred into small pieces. This can be done with your hands.
Take two eggs and lightly beat them.
Take about 2 tablespoons of Italian parsley and chop finely. Make sure not to drop on the floor, like I did!
Add parsley to the beaten eggs.
Drain and mash the Cassava. Let the Cassava cool before you add to the egg mixture. It can be warm, just not hot. You do not want to cook the eggs.
Add the mashed Cassava and the Codfish to the egg and parsley mixture. I alternated, adding a little Cassava and then a little Codfish.
Mix well. The parsley not only adds color and flavor, but also serves as a good indicator of when the fritter mixture is well mixed.
Once well mixed, you can start making the Codfish balls. I make first make them round and then shape them to an oval shape. Do not make them too big or they will not cook evenly inside.
Fry in a heavy bottomed deep pan or a deep fryer. Make sure to use a high heat oil. I used Safflower oil. It has no taste and can tolerate high heat without smoking. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Here you can see how they start out and how they end up when they are done.
Gosh, I need a manicure!
Oh my! These are soooo good!
Large pot to boil Cassava
Deep pan or deep fryer
1 lb of dried Codfish
2 lbs of Frozen Yucca, also known as Cassava
2 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley
Safflower oil for frying
Take the dried salted codfish and soak in a bowl or pan of water, overnight. In the morning, change the water at least three times. The soaking removes the salt that is used to preserve the fish. If this is not done properly, it will be too salty. At this point you can refrigerate the fish until you are ready to use it. When you are ready to make the fritters, cut the fish into small pieces and remove any skin and bones. Shred into smaller pieces with your hands, or better yet, with someone else’s hands. This can be tedious. In the meantime, place the Cassava to boil until tender. The time it takes to boil all depends on the size of the Cassava pieces, figure at least 30 minutes. Once the Cassava is done, let it cook and mash with a potato masher or a large fork. Beat 2 eggs lightly in a mixing bowl and add two tablespoons of finely chopped parsley. Now start adding the shredded codfish and the mashed Cassava. Mix well. You will know when it’s mixed thoroughly if the parsley is evenly distributed. Take a small amount of the mixture and make small balls or oval shaped balls. Make sure not to make them too big or they will not cook evenly, better small than larger. Once done, you can start the frying. Take a heavy bottom deep pan and pour enough oil to come up the side of the fritter. You can also use a deep fryer if you have one. Make sure you use a high heat oil. I like using Safflower oil. Safflower oil is tasteless and odorless. It’s also lower in saturated fat than most oils and according to a study done by Ohio State University, reduces belly fat by blocking the belly fat hormones. I’m not quite sure how that works after you’ve eaten 15 Codfish fritters, but whatever. Enjoy with a good cold beer! Serves 8-10 as appetizers.