Saturday, October 9, 2021


Salt cod fritters, a dipping sauce and a few other tidbits to serve with drinks.

I invited my new neighbors down for drinks this evening and then thought, “so what am I going to serve them?” 

Desalted cod scraps.

I had part of a package of bacalao (salt cod) that I had used for another recipe (see the orange-olive-cod salad here). These migas, or scraps, needed only two to three hours of soaking to desalt them (rather than the 36 to 48 hours needed for a thick piece of salt cod). Just right for making buñuelos de bacalao, cod fritters.

The fritters make good finger food, speared on picks and served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce. They go particularly well with white wine, fino Sherry or beer, but, hey, if guests want red wine or gin-tonic, that’s fine too. 

I gave my mini-processor a good workout, using it to flake the cod, chop ham, mince onions and parsley for the fritter batter and to blitz the tomatoes for the dipping sauce. 

Buñuelos are best, hot or room temperature, within an hour of frying them.

Dipping sauce is optional. The fritters are also good with alioli, garlic mayonnaise.

Fritters are crisp on the outside, spongy inside.

Salt Cod Fritters
Buñuelos de Bacalao

If starting with dry salt cod, cut it into small pieces and soak in several changes of water to rehydrate and remove salt.

Be careful about adding salt to the batter, as both cod and ham are salty. Best to taste the batter or fry up a sample fritter and add more salt if necessary. 

Moderate the heat so the fritters don’t brown too quickly. They need time to allow the flour to cook. 

The fritters are best within an hour of frying them. But, fried in advance, they can be successfully crisped up by submerging them briefly again in hot oil. 

Makes 1 dozen fritters.

Use food processor to chop ingredients.
3 ounces salt cod, desalted
1 ounce cooked ham
1 large egg
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion or scallion
¼ cup water
Olive oil for frying
Tomato dipping sauce, to serve (recipe follows)

Squeeze out excess moisture from the cod. Chop it finely with a knife or in a mini-processor. Finely chop the ham in the same manner.

Add saffron to batter.
Beat the egg in a bowl. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in the water. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter. Mix in the saffron. Add the parsley, onion, cod and ham. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Place oil in a heavy skillet to a depth of 1 inch and heat the oil on moderate-high heat. Test the oil by dropping a little of the batter into the oil. When the oil is ready (360ºF), the batter should begin to sizzle and rise to the surface of the oil. 

Use two teaspoons to drop balls of batter into the oil. Don’t crowd the pan. The fritters will puff up and bob to the surface as they cook. 

Moderate heat so fritters don't brown too quickly.

When golden-brown on the bottom, carefully turn the fritters and brown the reverse side. In total, the fritters need about 3 minutes. 

Remove the fritters with a skimmer or slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Serve them hot or room temperature accompanied by Tomato Dipping Sauce.

Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce
Salsa de Tomate Picante

Serve spicy tomato sauce for dipping the fritters.

This sauce goes very well with fried foods.

I used the mini-processor to finely chop the onions and garlic and to chop the skinned tomatoes as well. How spicy? That’s up to you. I added 1 whole chile (I think a cayenne) and fished it out afterward. The sauce was not very spicy. Using chopped chile with seeds makes a hotter sauce. 

Chiles for picante.
1 ½ pounds plum tomatoes (8-10)
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1 chile pepper or to taste
1 bay leaf

Peel tomatoes easily.

Cut out the stems and cut a slash on the bottoms of the tomatoes. Place in a single layer on a plate and microwave on High for 2 minutes. Turn the tomatoes over and microwave on High 1 minute longer. The skins should begin to peel away. Let the tomatoes cool. Slip off the skins and either chop the tomatoes or blitz them in the mini-processor. Save the pulp and juice. You should have about 1 ½ cups.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot and sauté the onion and garlic on moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano and salt. Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the chile and bay leaf.

Cook the tomatoes, partially covered to avoid splattering, on moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and jammy, 30 minutes.  Remove and discard the chile and bay leaf.

Serve the sauce room temperature or chilled. 

More buñuelos:

Welcomd to new neighbors, Nina and Urban.


  1. Those are superior Buñuelos - I may have to go to the Boqueria in the morning for some jamón and bacalao!

    1. Mad Dog: Bunyols in Barcelona are a little different, I think, made with choux batter. Enjoy your Boqueria breakfast.

  2. Perfect, your timing for the right food is amazing!
    Love these crocettas, not? Bunoelos Yes😍

    1. Sweet Basil: Not croquetas. Though there are different sorts of buñuelos. Glad I've hit your sweet spot.

  3. Two recipes I am hoping to make soon ! As Mad Dog can tell you . . . I have 'a thing' about bacalao which I have tried and perchance not quite liked a multitude of times . . . well your fritters may change my mind :) ! Do like the look of the tomato sauce . . . Trust you will enjoy your new relationship . . .

    1. Eha: I, too, am not terribly fond of bacalao. Usually I prepare it once a year, for Semana Santa. But yes, this is a good and easy way to use it.

  4. Wow - can't wait to come for drinks!