Bacalaitos (Codfish Fritters)

Bacalaitos (Codfish Fritters) are an easy-to-prepare and delicious side dish that can also substitute meat or fish in your Dominican meal.

Some time ago somebody left commented that this recipe was Puerto Rican. Before I was able to reply, a reader left a very good comment, arguing that, with different names and slight differences in preparation, Bacalaíto (Codfish Fritters) was a pan-Caribbean recipe.

It’s good to remember that, when it comes to cooking, the wheel was invented a long time ago.

Bacalaitos (Codfish Fritters) are an easy-to-prepare and delicious side dish that can also substitute meat or fish in your Dominican meal.

In the play Caesar and Cleopatra George Bernard Shaw put these words in Caesar’s mouth: “Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.” This is one of a few “famous quotes” I remember, one that has informed how I see the world. Philosopher Michel de Montaigne put it thusly: “I think there is nothing barbarous and savage in this nation, from what I have been told, except that each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice; for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in.”

Bacalaitos (Codfish Fritters) are an easy-to-prepare and delicious side dish that can also substitute meat or fish in your Dominican meal.

It isn’t my intention to use this argument as an insult, provincialism is a rot that affects us all. This is just a reminder that we must keep our minds and eyes open when it comes to culture, and particularly, food culture. That which we might think unique to our culture may very well be common to others, especially when it comes to a small region with a lot of history in common. What we think is exclusively ours could be the result of cultural exchange, or could have appeared in two countries simultaneously.

To know what’s yours makes you smart; to also know others’ makes you wise.

Buen provecho!

Aunt Clara

Bacalaitos (Codfish Fritters)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Bacalaitos (Codfish Fritters) are an easy-to-prepare and delicious side dish that can also substitute meat or fish in your Dominican meal.
Serves: 16 fritters (aprox.)
  • ½ lb of salted codfish
  • ¼ cup of oil
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped leek (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
  • ½ small onion diced into very small cubes
  • ¼ red pepper diced into very small cubes
  • 2 eggs
  1. Soak the salted codfish overnight in abundant water for 3 -4 hours.
  2. Boil the codfish in clean water until it starts to flake.
  3. Change the water and soak the codfish if it is still too salty. Drain all the water.
  4. Flake the cod very finely.
  5. In a bowl mix the codfish, milk, sugar, cornstarch, leek, parsley, onion, pepper and eggs. Mix well.
  6. If the codfish lost all the salt in step 3 add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the mixture.
  7. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  8. Pour the mixture one spoonful at a time, shaping into small cakes.
  9. Fry till golden brown on both sides.
  10. Let them rest on a paper towel for a minute to drain excess oil. Serve hot.

Originally posted Jan 2003.

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{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Tonya D May 21, 2015, 3:09 PM

    You’re Caribbean Food recipes make my tastebuds water! Yummy! Loved the salted codfish in this one, a great staple!

  • Gjavier March 24, 2013, 9:35 PM

    I am wondering if I could bake these instead of frying them?

    • Aunt Clara March 30, 2013, 10:37 AM

      I am not sure, I have never done them that way. If you try, let me know how it goes.

    • Paulo Pato March 4, 2015, 5:50 PM

      yes you can but they’re not as tasty, the frying oil gives it that wonderful taste

  • Clara February 9, 2013, 11:35 PM

    I tried this recipe and they were delish!! I just had a question about making a larger batch. If I were to cook a pound if bacalao lets say…would I just double on the rest of the ingredients? I feel like it’s a silly question but I figured I’d ask :-)

    • Aunt Clara February 10, 2013, 11:33 AM

      I would not be able to vouch for an untested change. Yes, doubling is likely to work, but I haven’t tried it. Good luck!

  • Beauty May 3, 2012, 10:28 AM

    how could you be sure?

  • Melanie Edwards Ella January 31, 2012, 12:46 PM

    Me encantan bacalaitos! I've never made them myself, but I just might try now. Love it!

  • Victor January 15, 2012, 9:45 PM

    Please have a recipe for conch fritters, and Morir sonado.

  • Muchachamala January 13, 2012, 4:09 PM

    Thank u for the recipe tia clara. Im making these tomorrow for my family. I cant wait to get your cookbook too! I referenced your sancocho recipe, and i made my very first sancocho for three kings day. My family had seconds and thirds! So happy i found your website. Keep up the deelish recipes!

    PS*codfish fritters are very carribean. Jamaicans serve these as well. So its not just a puerto rican food. #dominicanarepresentando!

  • nieves October 28, 2011, 9:18 AM

    Empanaditas de yuca, Higueyanas are a particular weakness of mine, I've tried a couple of recipes which ended up in disasters after grating 5 lbs of yuca! Any ideas?

    • Aunt Clara October 29, 2011, 2:00 PM

      Search for cativias here and try that one. Please follow the instructions carefully.

  • dadymack August 20, 2011, 6:27 AM

    @ Beck sorry you are wrong papa. they make this on every Caribbean Island that had slaves and sailors. The sailors stored salted cod as food for the long sea voyage to the Caribbean and the slave masters bought it as a cheap food for the slaves. The slaves did what they could to make it edible and as slaves were moved from island to island so were these tasty fritters. Most of the foods we think of as a food from our Island we are surprised to find almost the exact same dish on another. Rice and beans are a staple slave dish and are found everywhere there were slaves from The American south to Mexico and straight through to the Caribbean.

    • michelle March 29, 2012, 3:47 PM

      I'm glad you set him straight, you should have added "Educate and research before you make a comment" and I am being polite.

    • LUIS November 3, 2013, 6:41 PM


  • Beck July 26, 2011, 6:03 AM

    No offense, but Bacalaitos are a Puerto Rican food. Not Dominican.