I went to Spain last week and as I hadn’t been in quite a while one of the first things I decided to do was hit a local restaurant. I love Spanish food – it’s simple but flavoursome, fresh and delicious. Although I think one of the things I love even more than Spanish food, is the way that the Spanish eat their food.
Their food culture is built around sharing, eating together, variety (for those that know me you will know this is my favourite element) and feeling relaxed. There is no rushing around after work trying to get the dinner on in a frenzied panic. No, in Spain it is entirely normal to not even start eating dinner until 10pm. People are always milling around outside – there is a very outside and communal feel to dinner time, and restaurants are very lax about taking last orders.
As you can imagine, in my excitement I decided to go to a tapas restaurant and order as many dishes as would fit on my table. Only, so many dishes were ordered, that they didn’t all fit on the table and the waiteress had to stagger the amount she brought out. At this point I should probably say that I wasn’t alone, I’m not that greedy, I was with a few friends. We completely misjudged the portion sizes and had way more than we could ever manage to finish.
But one of the stand-out dishes was a portion of salt cod fritters. They were light, soft, melt in the mouth delicious and not greasy at all – there is nothing worse than a really greasy fritter in my view. They were so good in fact that I felt obliged to try and re-create them on my return. My way of bringing a little bit of Spain back to my kitchen.
These are ridiculously easy to make when you consider how good they taste. You can make them for a party – I find they always go down a treat, or if you prefer, you could just make them for yourself and a few others to nibble on or have for dinner. I think they taste better with a bit of garlic mayo on the side, but you could also go au naturel and have them on their own.
Give them a go, they are a nice alternative way to eat salted fish – it doesn’t have to be cod meat, any fleshy meaty white fish will do – just make sure it is not too strong tasting. I’m sure you will love them just as much as I do!
OTV Cuisine: Stock Fish (Salt Cod) Fritters
Makes about 36
- 500g stock fish (salt cod, bacalao)
- 1 large all-purpose potato (200g), unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 60ml oil – I used olive oil
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 30g self-raising flour
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- oil – I used olive oil, for deep frying
- Soak the stock fish in plenty of cold water in the fridge for about 20 hours, changing the water four or five times to remove excess saltiness.
- Cook the potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 20 minutes, or until soft.
- When cool, peel and mash the potato with the milk and 2 tablespoons of the oil.
- Drain the stock fish, cut into large pieces and put in a saucepan.
- Cover with water, bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until the fish is soft and there is a froth on the surface.
- When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and any bones, then mash the flesh well with a fork until flaky.
- Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and cook the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened and starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat.
- Combine the potato, stock fish, onion, garlic, flour, egg yolks and parsley in a bowl and season.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mixture.
- Fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil (I used olive oil) and heat to 190°C, or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 10 seconds.
- Drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the oil and cook, turning once, for 2-3 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
- Drain well and serve immediately.
- Serve on its own, with salad or mayo.
Photos: see captions