18 January 2012

Bacalhau Fishcakes with Spanish Rice

This week's bacalhau dish is a riff on a Portuguese classic, Bacalhau Fritters and Tomato Rice (Pataniscas de Bacalhau com Arroz de Tomate).  It is a tasty dish, to be sure.  But deep frying?  I think we all learned our lesson on that one this week.  No one escapes the revenge of the deep fried cheesecake. 

So in case deep fried cod poses the same risks, here is a patanisca made a bit lighter.  Instead of tomato rice, here is a Spanish rice that packs in more veggies than the original.  Is it super healthy?  Errrr, not exactly.  But it is genuinely delicious and not as unhealthy as it could be.


The salt cod cakes are based on a recipe for Maryland Crabcakes which lets the fish be the main attraction by adding as few other ingredients as possible.  Although they are not fritters-- since they aren't deep fried puffs-- they have a similar texture, all crispy and crackly on the outside. 

The Spanish rice is a recipe from my Bittman Bible, How to Cook Everything.  It is a dauntingly big cookbook, but every time I flip to a page I see some other relatively simple thing I just HAVE to make.  This rice has been on my wish list for a while and I'm glad I saved it to use here.  It is similar enough to tomato rice that it gives the same pleasantly rich contrast to the crispy cakes.  On the other hand, it has a bigger kick of flavor behind it and isn't as soupy-- and those are marked improvements.


4 out of 5 fins
This is a tasty way to get a bacalhau fix in a manner that seems more or less familiar to a non-Portuguese person.  Fishcakes are approachable, no matter what the fish inside.  These fritters are nice in an comforting everyday way, and the rice complements that perfectly.  Consider this a very crowd-pleasing way to serve bacalhau.

Salt Cod Fishcakes
Pataniscas de Bacalhau
serves 4

1 pound bacalhau, desalted
1 egg
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour for dredging
2 tbsp oil for frying

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the bacalhau for about 10-15 minutes until it is tender and done.  Remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon, let it cool, and then shred it into chunks.  Take care not to let any bone or skin remain.

2. Mix the shredded bacalhau with the egg, yogurt, mustard, and salt and pepper.  Add the breadcrumbs, just as many as you need to bind the mixture so it will hold its shape.  Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to use it.  (It is ready to use immediately, but easier to shape from the fridge.)

3. Form the mixture into flat round cakes about 1 inch thick while you heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Dredge the cakes in flour, twice on each side, and fry them in the oil for about 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden brown.

Spanish Rice
serves 6
from How to Cook Everything

2 1/2 cups chicken stock
one large pinch saffron threads
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
salt and ground black pepper
1 ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped (I used one out of a can to save time)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup frozen peas
chopped fresh parsley

1. Warm the stock with the saffron. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chorizo and cook until it colors the oil and starts to brown.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic and rice, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn the heat down to medium.  Stir together and cook until the rice is glossed with oil and starting to color lightly, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomato, paprika, peas, and warmed stock with saffron.  Stir and adjust the heat to low, so it is just bubbling gently, and then cover.

4.  Cook for about 15 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Then turn the heat off and let stand on the hot burner (or keep the burner on its absolute lowest if you have a gas range) for another 15 to 30 minutes, covered and left alone.

5. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Cod fishcakes is a classic receipe from the Gaspé Coast. We use mash potatoes.