"These fritters are crisp on the outside, hot and fluffy within, and have the distinctively Portuguese flavour of preserved salt cod. Serve them with the tangy Tomato & Oregano Salad on page 101 to offset their richness. Including baking powder is not traditional, and it gives a slightly different shape, but I like to use it as it gives the batter a much lighter texture." ~ Rebecca Seal
600 g salt cod
100 g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
200 ml cold water
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
4 Tbs finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil and olive oil, for cooking
Lemon wedges, to serve (or Piri Piri Mayo or tartar sauce)
Twenty-four hours before you want to start cooking, begin to desalinate the salt cod: rinse it under fresh running water to remove any salt crystals on its exterior, then place in a large bowl of cold water, cover and leave in the fridge.
Change the water every few hours. It should be ready after about 24 hours – some cod is ready after just 8–12 hours, depending on the cure given to the cod.
To check whether it is ready, place a piece in a pan and cook it with a little water, then taste. It may be slightly salty, but shouldn’t be overwhelming.
When ready to cook, place the cod in a pan, cover with fresh water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cod from the water and leave it to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin, and any bones or fins, then flake the flesh.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre, then add the eggs and half the water. Use a whisk to quickly bring the batter together, and, when just combined, stop stirring. The batter should be about as thick as double (heavy) cream. Add the cod, onion, parsley, and a little salt and pepper. Set the mixture aside to stand for a few minutes.
Place a wide frying pan over a high heat and pour in a 1 cm (½ in) layer of oil for cooking. (I like to use two thirds vegetable oil to one third olive oil.) When it is smoking, drop a little nugget of the batter into the pan, and fry for a minute or so until it is golden brown. Remove and, once slightly cooled, taste it to check the seasoning. Adjust if necessary.
When ready to cook, place 4 tablespoonfuls of the batter into the oil.
Cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towel while you cook the rest. (Don’t try to cook more than 4 at a time as the pan will become crowded and the fritters will take longer to cook and may become soggy.)
Serve straight away with lemon wedges, piri piri mayo or tartar sauce.
Credits: Recipes and images from Lisbon by Rebecca Seal, with photography by Steven Joyce, published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $45
Photo Credits: Recipes and images from Lisbon by Rebecca Seal, with photography by Steven Joyce, published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $45