Pastéis de Bacalhau or codfish cakes are a popular appetizer at many snack-bars and restaurants here in Portugal. They are popular for good reason, a deep fried combination of potatoes and cod that can be eaten at any time of day. Codfish cakes are a good introduction to bacalhau, a traditional type of fish, rumoured to have over a hundred different recipes. What is bacalhau? It’s dried and salted cod that is hugely popular, you’ll find it in almost every supermarket, farmers, and fish market. This particular recipe uses lascas de bacalhau, that is the small pieces and off-cuts. However, if you can’t find lascas, any form of bacalhau can be rehydrated and shredded. Although the locals will tell you that using the best part of the fish for a recipe like this would be a waste!
Pastéis de Bacalhau – Salt Codfish Cake Recipe
- 400g lascas de bacalhau – soaked for 6 hours, changing the water regularly
- 750g cooked potatoes
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 large egg yolk
- Finely chopped parsley to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
- Potato starch
- Place a medium pan with water over high heat and bring it to a boil, then add the cod pieces and let it simmer for approximately 8 minutes.
- Drain it and keep the water in the pan, use it to boil the potatoes whole with its skin, the cod water will bring more flavour to the potatoes and the skin will protect it from absorbing water in excess.
- Cook the potatoes until soft but firm still.
- In the meantime let’s shred the cod. Our favourite way of doing so it´s to place the fish over two layers of clean cloths, wrap it and start squeezing and pounding it, kind of like kneading bread dough. Trust me, this will meticulously shred the fish and drain any left over juices.
- Drain the potatoes, transfer them into a large bowl and then mash, allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Combine the mashed potatoes, the codfish and the remaining ingredients together.
- Add a tablespoon of potato starch into the final mixture if it feels too wet.
- Use two tablespoons to shape the dough mixture into almond-shaped balls then deep fry the cakes in vegetable oil until browned.
- Place your fried cod cakes on some kitchen paper and let it absorb the excess oil. Let them cool (if you can wait that long!) for a few minutes before serving.
Our favourite way of serving Pastéis de Bacalhau is with some Piri-Piri mayo and a squeeze of lemon! Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried our Portuguese codfish cake recipe and what you think of it!