Salt cod is a food I have loved since I was introduced to it as an adult in the form of a creamy, pungent, garlicky Brandade. It was one of those dishes that was a revelation, and I since that first taste I have sought out salt cod dishes wherever they have appeared on restaurant menus–a relatively rare event. For a number of years cod was an unsustainable seafood option because of overfishing and so I gave it up, but due to effective management strategies Icelandic cod (particularly from Norway) is now considered a sustainable fish. If you have never tried it, these simple fritters are a delicious introduction to what a salt cure does to transform the fish into a more delicate, yet densely flavored, dish.
Salt cod is easy to prepare but it does take some advance planning due to the required soaking time. Look for boneless, skinless fillets to make the prep a little easier, and remove the fish from its container and start by giving it a good rinse under cold, running water. Divide the fillets up if needed.
Next you want to put the cod into a container and cover it with cold water. Put the container in the refrigerator for the duration of the soaking time. Drain and replace the water every 4-8 hours for a couple of days. You can periodically taste a little piece of the fish to see if it is still too salty. Salt cod is safe to eat without additional cooking, but if that makes you queasy you can toss a little chunk into a pan and warm it up before tasting the salinity. Once your cod is well hydrated and de-salted to your preferred degree, you are ready to make your recipe. Pat the fillets dry and then cut them into small pieces. You are now ready to go.
- 1 pound salt cod fillets, soaked as directed
- about 1 1/4 pounds baking-type potatoes, such as Russets, peeled, boiled until soft, and drained
- 4 eggs
- lots of fresh, minced garlic (this is to taste, but I use 3-4 cloves)
- juice of one lemon
- chopped fresh parsley, to taste
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- avocado oil, for frying
- Cut your salt cod into small pieces (bite-sized or smaller). Place the warm, cooked potatoes into a large mixing bowl and use a potato masher or a sturdy fork to mash them until fairly smooth. Stir in the cod, eggs, garlic, lemon juice, parsley ,and crushed red pepper. Do not add salt, as there is probably enough residual salt from the cod. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes to help it hold together.
- Cover the bottom of a skillet with a good slick of avocado oil to fry the fritters. Make sure the pan is completely covered. Heat over medium-high heat, and when a test piece of the fritter mixture sizzles when it hits the oil, you are ready to fry.
- Use a spoon to place the fritter batter in the oil, about a quarter of a cup per fritter. Do not crowd the pan. Fry in batches, 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown to dark brown. Flip carefully with a spatula. Remove cooked fritters to a pan and keep them in a low oven (200 degrees) to say warm while you finish cooking the remaining fritters. Replenish the frying oil as needed.
- Serve the fritters hot. If desired, stir some fresh lemon juice into some avocado oil mayo (homemade or Chosen Foods) and serve with the fritters.
- Makes about 20 fritters. Note that prep time reflects soaking time.
Note that most recipes for Salt Cod Fritters include the addition of flour. The flour adds some stability to the batter and makes the fritters easier to flip when frying. My recipe does not include flour and they hold up well when cooked, but you do have to flip them more carefully. If you want a more stable batter but want to keep these gluten-free and grain-free you can stir 2-3 tablespoons of arrowroot or tapioca starch into the mix.
I like to make an easy lemon aioli by stirring a good amount of fresh lemon juice (and/or parsley and garlic) into some avocado oil mayo. I use my homemade mayo or Chosen Foods brand.
You can reheat these by placing them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, which will retain the crispy exterior, or just do what we do and eat them cold. They make a great breakfast.
Thanks for reading,