Salt Cod Fritters

Fritelle di Baccalà alla Spezzina

Salt cod is one of those foods which unfortunately looks extremely unattractive, but which, when treated right, tastes delicious. It originated in times well before the refrigerator age, when more ingenious ways of preserving food had to be found. When you buy the fish, remember that it is supposed to look like a dirty floorcloth, but it won’t actually taste like one! In this recipe from the port of La Spezia in Liguria, the fish is soaked for 2 days, coated in a water-and-flour paste and deep-fried until golden and crisp.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) dried salt cod
  • 5 oz (150 g) plain white flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • oil for deep-frying
  • salt
  • lemon wedges

Method

Cover the cod in about pints (2 litres) cold water and soak it for 48 hours, changing the water frequently. When the fish is soaked through, take it out of the water and scrape all the scales off with a knife, trim it and cut it into chunks about 1½ X 3 inches (4 X 7.5 cm).

Work the flour, olive oil and about pints (900 ml) tepid water together with a heavy-duty whisk to make a very smooth-textured batter.

When you are ready to cook, pour about 5 inches (13 cm) oil into a 12 inch (30 cm) lidded deep-fryer and heat until sizzling - it should sizzle instantly when you drop in a small piece of bread. Dip the chunks of fish into the batter and deep-fry for about 8 minutes or until crisp and a rich golden-brown all over. The cooking time will vary according to the size of the fish pieces and the temperature of the oil. Drain the fritters on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and serve with lemon wedges.

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