Last updated on 04-Dec-2021
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 Portuguese presence, is the delicious Salted Cod Cake (or Croquette – in Portuguese, Pastel de Bacalhau 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 (Salted Cod Croquettes)
- 1 lb salted cod pieces ready to use | pre-soaked in cold water 4 to 8h to remove excess salt
- 1 lb potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup parsley fresh, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ tsp nutmeg ground (optional)
- olive oil to brush OR oil to deep fry
- Boil the cod in water with the bay leaves and the garlic cloves for 5-6 minutes. Remove cod from water and set aside.
- Re-use the water where cod was boiled (with the garlic and bay leaves), adjusting the salt - or use new salted water - to boil potatoes until very tender.
- Meanwhile, check cooked cod pieces (to ensure there are no bones left) and shred by hand or with a food processor until fine.
- Discard bay leaves. Drain and mash the cooked potatoes with garlic.
- Combine the shredded cod with the potatoes, add parsley and nutmeg (if using), taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Add 1 egg at a time and mix well to make a firm dough. Form cakes using 2 soup spoons, pressing and scraping the mixture from one spoon to the other, until they hold their shape.
- Brush with olive oil and bake in the oven or use Air Fryer at 375°F (190°C) for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and firm.OR Deep-fry (375°F or 190°C) until golden brown, then set them on paper towels to drain before serving.
- 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.
- After shaping the cod cakes, they can be frozen in a tray lined with parchment paper, then transferred to a freezer bag for baking/frying later.