Croquetas de bacalao

Food & drink
Croquetas de bacalao

These croquetas are from Sam and Sam Clark’s Moro Cookbook, a book that’s seeing some real service in my kitchen recently.  It’s a wonderful book, full of practical and delicious recipes.

Croquetas are a standard tapas dish, something you’re going to find nearly anywhere in Spain.  They’re the perfect snack food, and, really, what’s not to like about something made out of potato and deep fried?

Croquetas are normally made with ham, but this version uses salt cod.

Salt cod can be challenging to cook.  My piece had soaked in the fridge for two days, simmered in milk for nearly fifteen minutes, but still it had the feel of something that’s not how it should be.

“That looks like a lot of work,” observed Jenny as I battled away, hacking at the fish in a vain attempt to ‘flake’ it.

I eventually managed to shred the fish into a usable pile, with the aid of two forks, a knife and a pair of scissors.  In the end, I think that all the swearing made it just give up.

My execution of this recipe could have been better, but the basic idea is a winner.  Just season the mixture more than I did.

Soak 225g of the infernal salt cod in several changes of water for at least twenty four hours, probably longer.

Place the cod in a pan and cover with 600ml of milk.  Add a couple of bay leaves and half a peeled onion.  Bring the milk up to the boil and then let the fish simmer gently for four minutes.

Now, after four minutes, my fish resembled a brick, so I carried on simmering.  And carried on.  And carried on.  My cod took significantly longer than four minutes to approach anything resembling tender.

When the cod is finally done, lift it out of the milk and replace with 350g of peeled, quartered potatoes.

Whilst the potatoes are  cooking, pick over the cod, separating the  bones and skin and flaking the flesh. The recipe advises that this is best done whilst the fish is hot, lest the fish become ‘stubborn’ or ‘gluey’.  Well, there’s a good chance it’ll be stubborn whether it’s hot or not.

Drain the potatoes, and throw away the onion and bay.  Mash them with a potato masher and mix in the flaked cod, a heaped teaspoon of plain flour, a large handful of chopped flat leaved parsley and a dessertspoon of grated onion.  Mix thoroughly and season well.

Shape the croquetas with a pair of dessert spoons.  Take a spoonful of the mixture and use the other spoon to shape a quenelle shape.  There’s a definite knack to this, so persevere.

When the croquetas are shaped, fry them in hot oil for about four minutes or until golden.  Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately with wedges of lemon and cold beer.

The croquetas were good, but they weren’t great.

“What did you think of those?”

“They were OK”, replied Jenny, nudging a half eaten croqueta around her plate, “but they looked like hard work to make, and I expected more.”

Exactly.

Next ime, I’ll do a traditional bechemel and ham version.

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