Salt Cod Fritters
As a professional chef, I have certain tools of trade I need to have at home to create the restaurant-quality food guests expect when they come our house. Talk about a busman’s holiday! My deep fryer one of those tools I can’t do without, whether catering, at the restaurant or at home. I love Chanukah because the tradition of fried foods goes along with my own culinary inclination. Fritters are wonderful whether part of the meal or in smaller size, like these cod fritters that make a special appetizer. Ellen’s family has always had great appreciation for certain fish, and salt cod is one of them. It’s an off-the-beaten- path fish in the US, but popular in many other parts of the world. You can usually find it at Italian specialty food market, fishmonger or can order online. The salting process preserves it for long periods of time and is also the reason you need to soak the fish for so long. You can substitute another fish like fresh cod or smoked sable fish for delicious, but different results. You definitely want to serve these hot…and they are worth the effort!
- 2 pounds dried salt cod or fresh cod or smoked sable fish
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups water
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups crushed panko bread crumbs
- 4 cups canola oil for frying, or as needed
- Egg Wash
- 4 large eggs
- 12 tablespoons cool water
- To prepare the salt cod, cut the fish into 2-inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and cover with water. Set aside to soak for 18 to 24 hours, changing the water every 6 to 8 hours to remove the saltiness. Don’t skip any of this step!
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to boiling over high heat. Add the potatoes, cover and boil until easily pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, put the potatoes through a food mill or the grating disc in a food processor.
- If using salt cod, drain it and place in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the milk, water and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the cod is tender and flakes apart when poked with a fork, approximately 45 minutes. Drain cod in a mesh strainer, discard the liquid and garlic. For fresh cod, poach it with the milk, water and garlic and then flake. Smoked sable fish just needs to be flaked.
- Transfer the salt cod to a large bowl and break it up into very fine flakes with a wooden spoon; it should be “mealy” in appearance. To the flaked fish you are using, add the potatoes and stir to combine. Stir in the egg yolks, salt and pepper, mixing well.
- To prepare the egg wash, whisk the eggs and water together until combined. Put the flour, egg wash and bread crumbs into separate shallow dishes. Shape the fish mixture into small balls, approximately 1½ inches in diameter. Roll each ball into the flour, then dip into the egg wash and then roll in the bread crumbs. Pour 4 inches of oil into a medium saucepan or, to minimize splattering oil, in a deeper stew pot, and heat over medium heat to 325 degrees (measure on a candy thermometer). Working in batches and adding more oil if needed, add the fritters to the pan and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and keep them warm. To serve, line a bowl with a kitchen towel and arrange the fritters in it.