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Salted Cod Fritters : Bolinhos de Bacalhau

Salted cod fritters and cabbage soup
This is an example of some cod fritters we had in Portugal. Held their shape well. The soup was a delicious cabbage soup. This was one great meal!

I first had salted cod fritters when I was in Portugal. I absolutely loved them and knew I wanted to make them at home. Salted cod is easy to find around Christmas time in specialty markets and Italian stores. I made these in February, so it was a little trickier to find. Lo and behold, my local fish market keeps it in stock in the freezer year-round. Whew! At least I didn't need to wait almost a year to try it.

Since I didn't want to use eggs, I substituted the liquid from canned chickpeas, known as Aquafaba. There are other egg substitutes; like flax, chia and applesauce, none of which sounded like the best option.

When using Aquafaba, you're supposed to whip it up a bit to get it frothy and thicker, which I did. But after all of that, I thought the end result was just OK. The taste was fine but the texture was kind of mushy and the whole thing didn't hold up too well.

I also used olive oil instead of the recommended corn oil. Maybe that affected the texture, too. I don't know.

I'm including the recipe I used for inspiration ( It seems like a solid recipe, so if you're curious to try, please do and let me know the results!

  • 2 eggs (I used 6 Tablespoons of the liquid from a can of chickpeas aka Aquafaba)

  • 1 lb salted cod

  • 1 lb potato boiled and mashed

  • 1 white or yellow onion minced

  • 3 tbsp parsley finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped

  • 1 tsp thyme finely chopped

  • corn oil (I used olive oil)


  • Remove the dried salted bacalau from packaging and soak in fresh water. Refresh the water twice over two hours, then let the cod soak in fresh water overnight. Again, refresh the water at least twice over two hours in the morning.

  • To the mashed potatoes add cilantro, parsley, thyme and onions. Stir to evenly distribute throughout the potatoes. Crack eggs into the bowl. Stir to combine. The potato mixture should hold its shape on a spoon. If it has too much moisture add breadcrumbs as needed. Refrigerate mixture while you prepare the cod.

  • Using two forks, or a food processor, shred the cod. Take caution when using a food processor to not bring the cod to a paste. Use the pulse feature to have more control.

  • Mix shredded cod into the potato mixture. Using two spoons, or your hands, form one fritter into an egg shape.

  • Heat a pot of oil to 350°F. Drop in one of your egg shaped fritters and cook for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Taste. After tasting your first fritter adjust the seasoning of the mixture if necessary before shaping and frying the remaining fitters.

NOTES: For the shredding of the first I tried the fork method, then quickly ditched that and tried using the food processor. That's definitely the way to go. Be sure to cut up the cod into smaller chunks - roughly 2" pieces - and then pulse with the food processor. Don't just turn it on and chop continuously or your cod will turn into a paste. Ew.

These are they way my cod fritters turned out. Tasty but missing in many areas. Would love to make them with a Portuguese native!

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