This is a classic Portuguese dish that we call our own. It is one of the best ways to eat dried cod and the best croquette in the world. It is quite addictive, that sort of snack you just can’t stop eating. In Brazilian pubs (botecos) this croquette is beer’s best friend. In Portuguese restaurants the croquettes are served as an entrée. I tried many different recipes over the years, a few recipes even call for eggs and breadcrumbs to coat, which makes it easier to fry. However, the coating jeopardises the distinctive flavour of the dried cod. Remaining as close as possible to the traditional Portuguese simple croquette is the best way to go: potatoes, cod, onion and herbs. I have to agree with Nigella Lawson, it is not easy to make this croquette, the preparation of the cod is really time consuming. Still, the flavour and texture are so special that I urge you to try this at home. The results will speak for themselves. A perfect snack to share with friends while watching the World Cup matches. And don’t forget that cold beer on the side.
400g floury potatoes (such as Desiree or King Edward)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs coriander, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
1 tbs plain flour
Freshly ground blackpepper to taste
Vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
Lime or lemon wedges, to serve
You need to start this dish 2 days ahead
*Available from large delis and Portuguese delis, in Hobart available from The Italian Pantry
1. To desalt the bacalao (cod), place it in an airtight container, cover with cold water, close the container and leave in the fridge for 2 days changing the water 3 times a day, approximately every 8 hours. After 2 days, drain the cod and place in a saucepan with milk over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the flesh starts to fall off the bone. Drain and transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Using fish bone tweezers, carefully pull off the bones, remove skin and shred the fish very finely (yields between 600-400g of shredded fish, use 400g for this recipe and freeze the remaining). Store in an airtight container and place it in the fridge until required.
2. Cook the potatoes in the microwave** for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked, turning them once half way through. Peel and mash until smooth. Cover with plastic film and set aside.
3. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft.
4. Place the potatoes and cod in a bowl and mix them well. Stir in the onions, herbs and pepper to taste.
5. Make 20 croquette-shapes using two spoons or lightly grease your hands to shape them. If you’re your hands get sticky, wash them well before you continue and grease again. Place on a large baking tray, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Line some paper towel onto a large tray or plate. Half fill a medium heavy-based frying pan or deep fryer. Heat the oil over high heat until hot. Test the oil with a little piece of bread, if the bread turns brown in 30 seconds the oil has reached the right temperature. Fry the croquettes in batches until golden and without overcrowding the pan and without turning so they don’t break apart. Transfer to prepared tray. Serve warm with lime or lemon wedges.
**Note: cook the potatoes in the microwave because the potatoes will get drier, making it easier to reach the right consistency of the croquette.