Fried Cod Fritters –Pataniscas

Makes about 3 dozen

        Some call this Iscas while others say pataniscas and yet in the Azores you might hear “tortas”.  When I hear ” Iscas” , I think of my father’s pan-fried thinly sliced and marinated calves liver. Here in this recipe, large flakes of pre-cooked salt cod (bacalhau) are coated in a batter and quickly pan fried like little pancakes and served up as a starter or as part of a light lunch alongside a salad of perhaps black-eyed peas, rice and olives.  In Tras os Montes, (Beyond the Mountains) of the Portuguese mainland, in Vila Real, Maria Natal makes this version by shredding the presoaked, poached cod while her husband, Antonio Melo who is originally from Marco Canveses (Porto), adds  chopped presunto (prosciutto) to the batter. Many variations of this delectable petisco.  Add boiled and mashed potatoes and you have the traditional codfish cakes.  The number you get depends on the size you make them.

  • 1/4  cup water or white wine
  • 3  eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4  cup finely diced onion
  • 2  tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of chili (optional)
  • sea salt to taste, if needed
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless salt cod, presoaked for 24 hours, changing water about 7 times
  • oil for frying

Make the batter:

  1. Beat the eggs with the water or wine
  2. Mix in the onion, parsley, flour, chili , if using, and salt, whisking until somewhat fluffy. Set aside.

Prepare the fish:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the fish and reduce the heat to medium, so that the water is just simmering.  Cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the fish.  Let it cool for a few minutes. Remove any bones or skin and hand shred the fish into small pieces.
  3. Gently combine the fish with the batter, turning to coat the fish.
  4. Heat enough of the oil in a skillet, about 1/2 inch- deep, until hot but not smoking.  By tablespoons, drop a spoonful of batter into the hot oil and with the back of the spoon, spread it out a little so that it looks like small pancakes.  Fry until golden and drain on paper towels. Serve hot or room temperature.

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