Cod cakes are a Portuguese favorite. Made with dried salted cod, these potato cakes are hearty and easy to prepare, with just the right blend of spices to wake up the potatoes and enhance the natural sweetness of the fish.
How to Make Portuguese Cod Cakes
12 oz. dried, salted cod (Bacalhau)
4 peeled, russet potatoes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro, or fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup flour
Peanut oil for frying
Prepare cod according to the package directions. This should be done a day or two ahead. If you haven’t cooked with dried, salted cod before, you're in for treat. It's sweet, without a fishy aftertaste. Drying enhances and deepens the flavor, and a potato-based dish with complimentary spices is just the way to show off this flavorful ingredient.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Place prepared cod in the potato water and simmer for 20 minutes.
While cod is simmering, mash potatoes and add seasonings and egg yolk.
Remove cod from the water, drain and place in a small bowl. Flake into small bits with a fork, removing any skin or bones. Add cod to potato mixture and blend well. Form mixture into eight or ten fist sized patties about 1/3-inch thick. In a large skillet or deep fryer, heat peanut oil to 350 degrees F or until a pea sized piece of the mixture bubbles briskly when added to the oil. Coat patties with flour and add them gently to the oil, one at a time. Cook until brown, turning once (about 8 minutes).
Cod cakes or balls are often served in Portugal as appetizers. Rolled into small balls, like meatballs, they are easy to fry to a delicious golden brown. As appetizers, cod balls are a great accompaniment with fresh kale soup. They make a crisp autumn meal an occasion to look forward to. I often serve cod cakes on Halloween, and it's always a big hit.