Fabulous fluffy salt cod fritters – Bunuelos de Bacalao

First, I’m a little peeved…

…by this new aggregate poll (Sept. 16) from Huffington Post –

PollsSept

— which shows a steady decline for Cutler (despite Jeff Evangelos’ belief Cutler would steadily rise, taking votes from LePage, and very much in spite of Angus King’s endorsement), a creeping rise for our “Governor,” and a minuscule lift for Mike Michaud. Folks, it’s a horse race again. The LePage supporters are as tenacious as pit bulls, and they’ve got the electorate by the pantleg. Not a pretty picture.

I’m also irritated – no, deeply annoyed – with Obama. It’s hard to believe a guy who came in 6 years ago with such lofty visions and ideals could be reduced to so much pandering to hawkish and right wing forces… as borne out in today’s New York Times story about an incredibly expensive renewal and refurbishing of our nuclear arsenal. Billions? Nay – a trillion or more! Mr. President? Bleecchh!!

I want to log in with Democratic Senate candidate Shenna Bellows sometime, whose politics are right in my wheelhouse. She’s way, way behind Susan Collins in the polls, but it would be a good thing to make a strong challenge against Collins who, for reasons I don’t understand, is held in pretty high esteem in this state. Later…

But now –

Palate-pampering, fluffy salt cod fritters – bunuelos de bacalao

DSC_9820asmallCod fritters served with sauteed corn-off-the-cob and green peppers, and a hefty red wine.

In Spain it’s bacalao, in Portugal it’s bacalhau, in Newfoundland there is the island of Baccalieu, and they all mean cod, or more literally, stockfish. The Portuguese have hundreds of recipes for cod, but none involve the fish in its unsalted, uncured state. The following recipe is from Spain, adapted from The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook, and asks you to plunk down about $12 for a 1 lb. box of salt cod, but you won’t regret it. The big surprise here? Beaten eggs whites folded gently into the fish-potato mixture to yield a soft, fluffy fritter with a crispy crust.

For about 4 servings you’ll need (mostly the usual suspects in the kitchen):

  • 1 lb. salt cod, rinsed for 24 hours with 2 or 3 water changes
  • 1 yellow potato, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour (or regular flour, if need be)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • plenty of olive oil for frying

First, about rinsing the cod: I will usually do 4 water changes if I’m rinsing, say, for 8-10 hours, but 24 hours is much longer so 2 changes should do it. To be safe, have a taste of the fish after 2 changes to see how it’s doing, and if it’s too salty, soak it a third time.

Gently boil the unpeeled potato for about 20 minutes or until soft. Let it cool, easily peel it, then mash it with the milk and olive oil.

Drain the cod, cut into pieces, and put into a saucepan with water, just covering the fish. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Drain the fish, then mash it until it’s flaky.

Saute the onions in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Now combine fish, mashed potato, onion, garlic, egg yolks, parsley, and flour in a bowl and mix well. Season as you wish – with pepper, cayenne, Old Bay, etc.  In another bowl whisk or beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the mixture.

In a large heavy skillet heat about 3/4″ of olive oil over medium high heat and, when hot, drop in heaping tablespoons of the mixture and cook until golden brown on the bottom – about 2 minutes. Gently flip them and finish cooking, then remove them, drain, and serve.

My wife and I had these with sauteed corn and green pepper, as in the photo, and froze about 5 fritters that were left over. Really good, all around.

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Someday we’re going to visit Indian country in South Dakota. But I have to reach our old friend Katie, whose family has a large buffalo ranch out near the Black Hills – the ranch where they shot Dances with Wolves. South Dakota is just eye-poppingly beautiful (to me). But, like most of the West, it isn’t funny, so I’ll probably tell it straight.

Till then, here are a couple of my favorite pix from our trips. Click on them to see them big.

08Trip_199SDchurchPrairie and church north of Eagle Butte, Cheyenne River Reservation. 

SDPrairieHillsHills south of Eagle Butte, near the Missouri River

There it is, for today.

Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, humorist, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.