Culture doesn’t stop changing. No part of it does –thank goodness– and that includes a country’s culinary heritage.
We may hang on with teeth and nails to nostalgia, but the world keeps travelling at 1070 miles/hr, and dragging us all in this fantastic rollercoaster ride we call life. A lot of these changes are completely worth the price of admission.
Much as I love casabe, I am very glad for each and every wave of our ancestors that brought us good food –better food even– and we didn’t get stuck eating casabe and roasted fish for the rest of our lives. And thanks to all the creative cooks of bygone eras that combined new ingredients to make the dishes that today form our culinary culture.
And with this, I bring you a dish I believe can easily become part of our new culinary culture: Codfish and Potato Fritters
Codfish is a traditional ingredient in our Lent cuisine. The very beloved Bacalao con Papas (Codfish with Potatoes) is a staple hailing back from the days that the Catholic church proscribed meat-eating during Lent (and all Fridays).
Salted and dried codfish is a remnant of our colonial days, brought here by European traders, and made popular by the fact that it was both inexpensive and highly durable –a plus in pre-refrigeration days.
“Salt cod formed a vital item of international commerce between the New World and the Old, and formed one leg of the so-called triangular trade. Thus it spread around the Atlantic and became a traditional ingredient not only in Northern European cuisine, but also in Mediterranean, West African, Caribbean, and Brazilian cuisines.” – Wikipedia
Frying is not the healthiest method of cooking, so I had these codfish and potato fritters as lunch, served on a bed of shredded lettuce and a dressing made from yogurt and capers. Two or three of these will make a very satisfying meal, made more so because they are very easy and quick to make. They can also be served to accompany a much larger meal.
Try them, and you’ll soon add this to your family repertoire too. Let’s keep the world, and our culture, moving.
- 1 cup of unsweetened, low-fat yogurt
- 2 teaspoons of capers
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of sugar
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- 9 oz [0.9 kg] salted dry codfish
- ¾ lb [0.34 kg] of waxy potatoes
- 1 small purple onion
- 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of freshly-cracked pepper
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup of oil for frying
- Mix all the ingredients and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
- Rinse codfish with running water until all the superficial salt has been washed away. Shred codfish into small pieces and soak overnight in a gallon of water.
- Sieve to get rid of the water. Taste it to make sure it isn't still salty (if it is it need to be soaked in clean water for another two hours).
- Using two forks (or your very pretty hands) shred the codfish very finely.
- Peel and grate the potatoes using the coarsest side of the grater. Grate onion on the same side.
- Mix potato and codfish. Mix in onion, cilantro, salt, pepper and egg.
- Heat half the oil over medium-low heat in a large non-stick frying pan.
- Fry the codfish and potato mixture by forming small patties with two tablespoons of the patties, never more than 3 at a time. Once brown on the bottom side, flip carefully and cook until golden brown all over.
- When you've gone through half of the mixture, add the remaining oil to the pan and heat again. Continue with the process until there is no more mixture.
- Place on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Serve on lettuce alongside the yogurt dressing.