Here’s one of those recipes I’ve had hidden away in my recipe folder for almost a decade. I’ve discovered it’s quite simple to prepare – despite taking a little time – and is great as a lunch with a crispy salad or perfect as a canapé at a cocktail party. Not that I ever have cocktail parties.
Bacalhau (or salted cod) is one of those things that has been around for centuries, common around Portugal and Spain and as far away as Greece (bakaliaros). Salting the cod preserves the fish and its nutrients and injects the flesh with a high dose of sodium. Not so good for the blood pressure but multiple soaking and simmering leaches out a great deal of it.
Here’s the recipe I’ve dusted off …
Boil the potatoes in their skins until tender, drain and set aside. Drain the salted cod and place in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes from the bone.
Remove the skin from the potatoes and puree or mash it. Drain the salted cod and set aside until cool enough to handle, then flake the flesh and discard any bones. Mash the flesh with a fork.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over high heat, add the onions and garlic and sauté until golden. Add the cod and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the potato and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring constantly and lifting the residue from the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the cream, then add the parmigiano and season to taste. Some of the mixture may stick to the bottom of the pan, but use this as it will add flavour. Remove from heat.
Shape tablespoonfuls of the mixture into 3cm balls. Roll each ball in flour, then in the egg mixture, then in the bread crumbs. In a large heavy-based pan or wok, heat enough oil for deep-frying until hot but not smoking. Cook the balls in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with saffron mayonnaise.
* You can make your own mayo and add a little saffron-infused vinegar to it if you wish, but I used a good egg mayo (Thomy) and added some saffron-infused milk to it. Just warm a tablespoon of milk and add a small pinch of saffron to it. Gently mix to release the colour and add to the mayo. Easy.
** Big thanks to Scanpan for supplying me with the Mini Casserole from their Maitre D’ range.