Gourmandistan recently purchased about a pound of Canadian salt cod, as Michelle would like to try to recreate a friend’s stepfather’s legendary crusty cod hash. (Our first attempt was tasty, but also un-crusty and un-photogenic.) It turns out that a pound is quite a bit of dried cod, so we’ve been looking for some other ways to use the salty stuff. We thought salt cod fritters would be a good idea.
Our first tastes of salt cod fritters came from French markets. This exotique snack was sold under the name accras (or sometimes acras) de morue, leading us to assume some sort of Gallic genesis for the salty, hushpuppy-like treat. After a bit of research we learned that the fritters (which also go by beignets de morue, pastéis de bacalhau, frittelle di baccala and many other names) come from all sorts of places, including Trinidad, North Africa, Italy and Portugal.
While we’d love to check out the other countries’ versions, we’re home-bound for the foreseeable future and were forced to make our own. We looked at numerous instructions, but settled on this adaptation of a Laura Calder recipe because we thought the beaten egg whites would result in a texture like the ones we remember from markets past. The fritters turned out light, crispy and fishily delicious, and we quite enjoyed them—though they did end up making us wistfully nostalgic for France.
SALT COD FRITTERS (Accras de Morue)
(adapted from Laura Calder on cookingchanneltv.com)
- 8 oz. salt cod
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 egg, separated
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 onion, finely minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on your heat tolerance
- Salt and black pepper
- A handful of chopped fresh parsley
- Neutral oil, for deep-frying
Soak the salt cod in cold water for 24 to 48 hours, changing the water several times a day.
Put the prepared cod in a small pot of cold water along with the bay leaf. Bring water almost to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool. Remove any bones and unsightly pieces of skin.
Break fish up into 5 or 6 pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor.
Beat egg white in a small bowl until it forms stiff peaks.
Whisk the egg yolk and milk together in a medium bowl. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until the mixture forms a paste. Add the paste to the food processor. Pulse for about a minute until fish is shredded. Add the onion, cayenne, salt, black pepper and parsley. Pulse a few times to mix.
Remove mixture to a medium bowl. Fold in beaten egg whites.
Heat several inches of oil in a high-sided pan to 350° F.
Drop generously-rounded teaspoons of batter into the hot oil, a few at a time. Turn with a slotted spoon so that they brown evenly. Drain on a cooling rack or on paper towels.