Codfish Cakes (or Salted Cod Fritters)

The beautiful country of Portugal is a foodie paradise known for its great cuisine, for the variety of dish options offered for every taste, and also for all the ways they find to feature and elevate the humble dried and salted cod – or the bacalhau for the initiated! 😉

Some dishes are very elaborate, while others are very easy to make at home. One of my favourite Portuguese snacks, which can be found all over the country – from restaurants, bars and bakeries to family homes – and at many places around the world where there’s a Luso presence, is the delicious Codfish Cake or Salted Cod Fritter (in Portuguese, Pastel or Bolinho de Bacalhau). These delicious “croquettes” are not breaded, but turn golden on the outside while remaining fluffy and creamy inside. There are many variations of this recipe, but the basic ratio of fish to potatoes is usually consistent. Here’s the way I make them, and it could not be simpler.

Codfish Cakes

Yields about 24-30 units

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless dried and salted cod bits (soaked in cold water 4 to 8h or overnight to remove excess salt)
  • 1 lb peeled potatoes
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (only if frying, and recipe would no longer be gluten-free)

Preparation:

  1. Change water at least once during soaking. Drain cod bits, add fresh water to cover and boil 6-8 minutes (until flaky). Strain cod, allow to cool a bit and shred by hand (better if you think there may be some bones left) or with a food processor until fine.
  2. Re-use water where cod was boiled (adds flavour) or use salt water to boil potatoes until very tender. Drain and mash.
  3. Combine shredded cod with potatoes and parsley, taste and adjust seasoning with salt (if needed) and pepper to taste.
  4. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Form cakes by hand or use 2 soup spoons, pressing and scraping the mixture with the spoons until they hold their shape.
  6. Brush with oil and bake in oven or use Air Fryer at 375°F (190°C) until golden and firm.
    If deep-frying (375°F  or 190°C), add 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour to the codfish mix before shaping, fry until golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with hot sauce and enjoy! Add some mixed olives, sliced fresh cheese and crusty bread for a traditional appetizer spread.

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