Salt Cod Fritters
Salt cod fritters are a traditional Spanish tapa. They make an excellent hors d’oeuvres first course when served with a small green salad or icy cold shaved fennel and grapefruit salad. Note that you need to begin to prepare this dish the day before you plan to eat it.
- 1 lb (500 g) dried salt cod; we recommend you visit Finest at Sea for dried salt cod
- 2 cups (500 mL) whole (3.25%) milk
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and left whole
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 medium white-fleshed potatoes, like Russet, skins on
- 1 medium Spanish onion, finely minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
- freshly ground black pepper as needed
- sea salt as needed
- 8 cups (2 L) vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
- lemon wedges for garnish
Starting a day ahead, soak the dried cod in cold water in the refrigerator for 12–24 hours, changing the water several times to remove most of the salt. Drain and rinse the cod, and put it in a large pot. Add the milk and enough water to cover the cod by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Cooking cod in milk keeps it really moist. Add the peeled garlic clove and bay leaf. Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 20–25 minutes, until the cod is tender and pliable. Drain and rinse well, then flake the cod into a bowl with your hands, removing any little bits of skin and bone.
While the cod is simmering in the milk, cover the potatoes with cold water and 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer the potatoes, covered, until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and cool them slightly under cold running water. While the potatoes are still warm, peel them and press them through a fine mesh sieve or ricer. This will keep them fluffy, and they will not become a gluey mass when processed. Combine the potato, flaked salt cod, beaten eggs, onion, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper by gently folding together. Do not beat the mixture or it will be gluey. The batter must be stiff enough to form oval shapes with 2 wet spoons. If the batter is too loose, add in a little flour.
When ready to serve the salt cod fritters, heat up the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot to 375°F (190°C). Fry a few fritters at a time by spooning an oval of batter into the oil until it floats and turns golden brown. Do not crowd the pot or the temperature of the oil will drop and the fritters will not fry properly and will soak up oil. When the fritters are golden, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel or newspaper and season them with salt. Eat immediately.
These fritters are delicious with Joie Brut, as bubbles and fried food are always a great contrasting and cleansing pairing. Pair with Noble Blend for a first course with a fennel and grapefruit salad.
Photo credit Menus from an Orchard Table