I think mom wins. The bacaliaro fritters in the picture above were made by my mother. In the picture below you can see the ones I made.
It was my mother's idea to add some baking powder to the batter, something which made the fritters fluffier and lighter. That made all the difference, and so she won, hands down. After all mom has more experience in the kitchen. Mine didn't taste that bad. They were good. They just didn't have that something extra.
These are mom's, and they have that "something extra."
Anyway, salt cod is cod that has been preserved by a method of drying and salting. In its preserved state the fish can last for a few years. Production of salt cod dates back at least 500 years, to the time that Europeans discovered the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Due to abundant nutrients and ideal water temperatures, the Grand Banks were at one time the richest fishing grounds in the world. Today, sadly, the area has been overfished. Salt cod was a vital item of commerce between the New World and the Old. In the Mediterranean it is a traditional ingredient in the cuisine of most countries.
Salt cod for sale at the grocer's
In Greece, salt cod is usually fried and served with an accompaniment of skordalia. There are various recipes for skordalia, and I have some posted on this blog. Recently, I made salt cod fritters (for the first time), and I served them with a skordalia made with potatoes, capers and almonds. The whole meal was very enjoyable, very traditional, and thanks to the skordalia, very garlicky!
Not to be outdone, my mother made her version of bacaliaro fritters a few days latter, insisting her recipe was better. Darn if she wasn't right. The recipe included here is mom's.
1 & 1/2 pounds boneless, dry salted cod
8 ounces of beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
about 2 or 3 cups canola oil, for frying
ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
a dash of paprika (optional)
This was my first time ever making salt cod fritters. They were good, but... if I had flattened them more before frying, they would have cooked more evenly.
- Rinse the excess salt from the cod. Place it in a large bowl, and cover it with cold water by several inches. Soak, refrigerated, for 24 hours, changing the water every 6 to 8 hours. Drain for the last time and pat dry with paper towels.
- Using your hands, shred the salt cod finely and place into a large bowl.
- Mix the flour with the baking powder and black pepper. Add the paprika if using.
- In a small bowl add the beer and whisk in the flour, whisking until no lumps remain.
- Stir the flour mixture into the shredded salt cod until well combined. Add the beaten egg and mix well.
- Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, working in batches, use a spoon to mold the fish into flattened balls about 2 inches in diameter. Carefully slip them into the oil. Do not overcrowd the pan because the temperature of the oil will drop and the fritters will get soggy.
- Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- Serve warm with caper and almond skordalia (recipe is here).