“Accra, Bacalaitos, Saltfish or Cod Cakes, whatever you call it in your part of the world, none of these names invoke childhood memories. And prior to developing this recipe, I had never eaten a cod fish fritter! I even consulted with ‘Mummy’ to verify and she confirmed. She only made oyster fritters when we were younger. So, early one Sunday morning I created this fritter recipe and fell in love (so did my family) instantaneously!” – Ria Birju, Cooking With Ria
- 6 ounce salt cod also known as salt fish or bacalao, skinless and boneless
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper about ¼ medium
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped pimento pepper 1 large
- 1 scallion finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons green seasoning
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- About ½ cup water
- Oil for frying
Using a knife, cut saltfish into small pieces. Soak for several hours. Rinse with several changes of water until only a hint of salt remains. Squeeze out all liquid from saltfish. Transfer to a bowl and flake. (Alternatively, you may rinse salt fish then boil a couple times, changing water after each boil).
In the bowl with the saltfish, add the remaining ingredients (flour, baking powder, yeast, peppers, scallion, green seasoning, garlic, onion, thyme leaves, brown sugar and black pepper).
Using your hands (or a spoon), mix together ingredients while gradually adding water, until you have a thick batter. Add more salt if the cod fish has no trace of salt after washing or boiling. Allow the batter to rest for 15 to 30 minutes.
Heat ¼ inch of oil in a skillet over medium heat or enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Start by doing a taste test for salt.
Using a tablespoon measure, scoop and drop batter into the hot oil, press with a spatula to flatten and fry until golden brown. Flip fritter and cook the other side. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels and taste fritter when cool. Add more salt to batter if needed.
Working in batches (now using a ¼ cup measuring cup), scoop batter, drop into oil, flatten with a spatula and fry, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown. Do not overcrowd pan. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Serve plain or with mango chutney, kuchela or hot sauce!
Add more oil as needed between batches, and always make sure the oil comes back to temperature. Reduce the heat whenever the oil begins to smoke.
I lower the heat while shaping the fritters and raise it to medium immediately after shaping.
Instead of using a 1/4 cup measuring cup you may also scoop and shape batter with your fingers, then drop gently into oil. Alternatively, you may scoop into a ball and deep fry until golden brown.
Recipe by Ria Birju of Cooking With Ria