Salt preserved fish has been a staple around the world since long before the advent of refrigeration. Bacalao, as the Spanish and Latin countries call salt cod, is a classic dish served as a snack or hors d’oeuvre on nearly every Caribbean island. Though it is usually deep fried as a fritter, the cakes here are in the New England style…pan fried. Bacon traditionally accompanies this New England dish but rather than cook the bacon wrapped around the cake or accompanying the cake I’ve added the bacon to a simple garlic aioli. If you’re not into mayonnaise, skip the aioli and serve with mango chutney, Sauce Chien, Pique Boricua, or for lunch serve it with a fresh green salad and your favorite vinaigrette.
Just a couple things to remember when preparing salt cod is to soak it at least 24 hours and change the water at least 3 times during that period. The other thing is to check it thoroughly for bones when flaking the cooked fish. Even if the package says the salt cod is boneless and skinless its apt to have some pin bones. Our salt cod comes from Alaska and is yellow rather than pure white as the North Atlantic variety so don’t be alarmed if your salt cod turns yellow when it is soaking or cooking. If you’re watching your fat intake, use bread crumbs to coat each chilled cake and bake like salmon patties.
Be sure to watch the video following for some tips on preparing salt cod for cooking and another variation with grated potato as the coating.
- 1 pound salted cod fish fillets, boneless and skinless
- 2 pounds potatoes, boiled until tender and mashed
- 1/2 onion, chopped fine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp Anaheim chili, minced (or chili of choice)
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- Bread crumbs for coating
- peanut or vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup mayonaise
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 strips of bacon, fried crisp and broken into bits
- Rinse salt cod in cold water, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 24 hours. Change water every 8 hours.
- Drain fish, place in a shallow pan and cover with water. Cook to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool. Flake fish with a fork checking for bones, sinue and skin.
- Place onions, garlic, chili and butter in a small pan and cook over medium high heat until wilted and fragrant. Cool.
- In a large bowl mix fish, mashed potatoes, mustard, Worcestershire, eggs, parsley and cooked onion mixture.
- Form into cakes (makes 12). Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Coat with bread crumbs and fry over medium high heat in 2 Tbsp oil until brown. Add more oil as needed. Remove to paper lined tray.
- To make garlic bacon aioli, wilt garlic in bacon fat over medium high heat, add to mayonaize with bacon bits.
- Serve fish cakes with garlic bacon aioli, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon.