Bolinho de Bacalhau
Inspired by the foods, tables and smiles of Chico & Alaide, a tapas restaurant in Rio de Janeiro located in the Leblon neighborhood, this dish is a bite of Rio’s history on a plate! Nhac!
Bolinho de Bacalhau
Makes around 115 small cod fritters
3 cups (750 ml) milk
2.2 lbs (1kg) salt cod
5 large Idaho potatoes, total 3.3 lbs (1½ kg)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced finely
1 medium shallot, minced finely (about 1/3 cup or 40g)
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Pinch cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying and a deep fat thermometer
- De-Salt the Cod: When buying the salt cod, try to find a piece that looks very meaty. Trim away all the dark parts around the belly and tail.
- Rinse the fish in cold water and place it inside a large container. The volume of water should be 10 to 15 times the size of the cod, so use a very big container. You can cut the cut to fit the container. Fill with cold water, and store it in the refrigerator to soak for one day. Change the water at least 3 times per day.
- Remove from the container and place the cod in a medium sized saucepan. Cover with cold milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce the heat to low, and cook the cod, uncovered until it becomes opaque, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cod cool inside the liquid.
- When is cool enough to handle, use a slotted spoon to remove the cod and discard the milk. Flake the cod with your hands into big chunks, then shred the fish by either chopping with a chef’s knife or passing through a food processor on the pulse mode. The fish will have lost about half its weight after being desalted and cooked, expect about 1 ½ (740g or 4 ½ cups) of shredded fish. At this point you can place the cod in a plastic container covered with a tight lid and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 6 hours before using).
- Prepare the Mashed Potatoes: Peel the potatoes and cut it into similar-size pieces to ensure even cooking. Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cover with cold water; add a pinch of salt. Cover the pan, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are fork- tender, about 8 to 10 minutes; drain in a colander. While still hot, pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill. Expect about 5 to 6 cups (1280g) of mashed potatoes. You should assemble the cod fritters while the potatoes are still warm.
- Assemble the Fritters: In a large bowl, mix the shredded cod and mashed potatoes. Add the olive oil, garlic, shallots, egg yolks, and parsley. If the batter gets too hard to mix by hand, you can use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment at low speed. Season with salt, cayenne, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and chill for 30 minutes while you prepare the oil for frying.
- Fry the Cod Fritters: Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pot or casserole and heat the oil to 350˚F, as measured with a deep fat thermometer. Drop around 12-14 cod balls. Only add as many as will fit without touching each other. Turn occasionally with a long slotted spoon, making sure both sides are browned evenly.
- When fritters are golden brown all over, remove from the oil and place onto a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Continue working in batches until all the fritters are cooked; keep the finished batches in a warm oven until serving. Serve immediately. These can be reheated in a 300˚F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
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