Portuguese Pastéis de Bacalhau (Cod Croquettes)
Let’s talk about the obsession of Portuguese people for codfish. I’m not talking about an occasional weekly meal with cod, oh no. They have a complete section in the supermarket dedicated to cod. Frozen, salted, fresh, cod croquettes, cod salad, cod shampoo, cod everything (and let’s not mention the smell, really stingy). They love this fish beyond any measure.
Codfish and I .. well not the best relationship that you may think of a girl living in codland (AKA Portugal). But I managed myself into a few dishes that have caught my attention. One of them is the cod croquettes. Not the frozen packaged ones, that’s a big NO for me. I mean real flavor packed cod croquettes. Those where you can feel the seasoning, the garlicky notes, the parsley shining through the tender cod meat. Those cod croquettes are a game changer, especially for those — like me— that aren’t convinced that cod can actually be tasty.
To make a successful batch of these authentic Portuguese Pastéis de Bacalhau (cod croquettes) you first need… codfish!
But really, not every type of codfish will give you the same result. You can use frozen, fresh or salted cod. The best option will always be salted cod. It has way more flavor and it’s easy to crumble. Also, you will need less amount of codfish for the croquettes. To make this recipe you will need 200 gr of salted cod instead of 300 gr if you use fresh cod.
But here comes my big BUT… I hate the smell of salted cod. I can’t stand it no matter how hard I try. For that only reason, I use frozen cod. It’s packed and doesn’t smell at all. The ratio of frozen cod is the same if you use fresh cod. The main difference is that with fresh cod you will have an extra amount of water. The texture will be a little bit more sloppy.
The key to the perfect Portuguese cod croquette is to make a bechamel with the codfish that will become a semi-hard dough (see picture above). Then, the crunchy outside is the infallible mix of egg and breadcrumbs. You can totally use double crust — dipping the croquette in eggs and breadcrumbs twice— but I prefer a thin crust. It’s all about preferences.
This recipe is infallible. Also it easy to do and if you ever tried a frozen packaged cod croquette you will notice that the difference is ridiculous.
Authentic pastéis de bacalhau. Salted cod croquettes seasoned with fresh onions and garlic.
- 300 gr fresh cod (note 1)
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp flour
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- Vegetable oil
Heat a big non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the onions and cook until the onions are slightly transparent, then incorporate the garlic.
Cut the cod into tiny pieces. Nobody will want to feel a huge chunk of cod in the croquettes. Cook it with the onion and garlic.
When the cod is fully cooked, add the flour and stir well. Then pour the milk and the nutmeg. Stir continuously until a thick dough is formed. Then retire from the stove and let it chill until it’s completely cold.
Form the croquettes with your hands. Immerse the croquettes in egg and then cover with breadcrumbs.
Fry in a pan with enough vegetable oil (preferably sunflower oil) to cover at least half of the croquettes. Fry for 5 minutes until the brown crust is formed.
Serve with your favorite sauce. Enjoy!
- If you use salted cod you will only need 200 gr because it has more flavor than fresh cod. Also, add less salt.