Salt Cod Cakes
I was in Queens last weekend, and found myself in a truly fabulous supermarket with a heavy duty stock of Hispanic ingredients like nopalitos (pickled cactus) and salt cod (bacalao or baccalou – with various spellings), and I brought home as much as I could carry on the subway. If you ever want to jump start yourself out of a cooking rut, go to a supermarket in a different area of your world.
Salt cod, or salted cod, is cod which has been preserved first by salting, then by drying. It must be soaked before it is used – otherwise it is tough and inedibley salty. Make sure to change the cold water at least three times during the soaking process.
I always wanted to make Salt Cod Cakes, having tasted them a couple of times in tapas joints. They are really Portuguese in origin, though salted cod makes appearances in cuisines from Italian to the islands. I read that cod was one of the fish Mrs. Patmore would have had the most access to, and because preservation was so important in that time, salt cod probably figured prominently though I lost a little steam on the research there. So, cod cakes seemed like a fitting thing to make for our Downton Abbey viewing tonight. I think these might have been more of a downstairs meal than an upstairs meal.
So, did my kids like these? Yes, to my slight surprise, although they weren’t all that excited by the smell of the cod and the potatoes boiling away during the first part of the cooking process. Oh well. No pain no gain, boys.
Salt Cod CakesPrint
- 1 ½ pounds salted cod fish
- 1 large all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup olive oil, or as needed, for cooking
1. Place the salt cod into a bowl or plastic container and cover with cold water. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, changing the water three to four times during the soaking process. Drain the cod and cut it into 2 to 3-inch pieces.
2. Place the cod and potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the cod flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, scallions, parley, cumin cayenne and black pepper and stir to mix well. Add the cod and potatoes, and use a potato masher to crash everything together, but make sure to leave pieces of the cod and potatoes for texture – you don’t want a mush.
4. Combine the flour with black pepper in a shallow bowl. Using your hands, form the cod mixture into golf ball-sized balls, and roll them in the seasoned flour, flattening them slightly.
5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the cod cakes in batches until browned and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Add more olive oil as needed as you cook all of the cod cakes.