Bunyols de Bacallà or Salt Cod Fritters is a classic Mediterranean dish which can be eaten as a tapa or as a main course with a salad or other small dishes to accompany them. They are often served with allioli which is a wonderful meeting of olive oil, salt and garlic.
There is a huge difference between the bunyols you will get in a cafe and those you make at home. The photo above is of Bunyols de Bacallà made by my friend Bev who is a fantastic cook and she inspired to me to have a go at this recipe myself. This was my first try and even though I had some problems they still turned out well and were delicious.
They will not be perfectly round and this is part of their beauty.
There are many variation on this recipe. You can leave out the potato and add more flour, you can use baking powder, add milk, separate the eggs and whip up the whites first. But what follows is the recipe I used and I will experiment later.
At the end of this post I will give you a couple of links to Catalan sites with slightly different recipes and some more information plus photos.
Bunyols de Bacallà
- 500g salt cod fillets
- 50g plain flour
- 2 medium free range eggs
- 400g floury potatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2tbs olive oil
- good handful of chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
Preparation and Cooking
Salt cod has been preserved in salt and so you need to prepare it at least one day in advance. Wash off excess salt and leave to soak in a dish of cold water for 24-36 hours. Change the water three or four times. Taste a tiny fragment of the fish to see if it is still too salty. It has been preserved – don’t worry that it is raw. When it is to your taste, drain it and cut into smaller pieces
- Put the fish into a pan with the bay leaf and cover it with fresh cold water. Bring it up to the boil then remove from heat and leave it to stand for ten minutes
- When it has cooled take the fish out of the water and remove skin, bones and any other fishy bits you don’t want in your bunyols. Break the fish into small pieces with a fork. Keep the salty cooking water to one side.
- Now put the potatoes into a pan with the salty fish water and more salt if necessary. (I didn’t add more salt and regretted it later) Boil for ten minutes and then drain well and leave to cool
- Now for the batter! Put 300ml of water and the two tbsp. of olive oil into another pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and slowly beat in the flour to form the batter. I did this too quickly and it developed lumps but don’t despair if this happens to you – you can just beat it harder and they will go eventually. Let the mixture cool and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Mash the potatoes in a large bowl and mix in the cod, the crushed garlic and the parsley. Add salt and pepper. Now put together the salt cod mixture and the batter and cook it on a low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. It should end up with a mashed potato consistency and easily form into balls. This process can take a while and I stopped too soon which meant my mix was harder to handle later.
- Leave it all to cool and you can even put it in the fridge for a few hours as this will help it thicken more.
- Heat the oil in the deep fryer to about 190C or 375F. You can use a deep frying pan if that is all you have. Our fryer is an old fashioned basket in a deep pan and this part was quite scary for a novice. However, if it isn’t hot enough the bunyols will fall apart or stick to the bottom. Tip for testing if the oil is hot enough – drop a little flour into the oil and see it if disappears. Another tip is to drop a clove of garlic into the oil and when it starts to fry then you can start cooking the bunyols.
- Using two dessert spoons form the mix into balls and deep fry them for about 3 minutes or until deep golden brown. You can do about 5 or 6 at a time. I won’t pretend this stage was easy for me. They fell apart, they stuck to the bottom of the wire basket, they took much longer to cook because I didn’t have the mix dry enough or the oil hot enough. But they still turned out OK!
- Drain on kitchen paper and serve with ailioli – home made if possible
- Eat immediately! Or someone else will