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Portuguese Salt Cod Croquettes with Aioli ❦ Pastéis de Bacalhau com Maionese de Alhos

Whenever I get asked what my favourite food is I start to imagine many dishes. How can I pick just one? Truth is if I must name a few favourites, then Pastéis de Bacalhau, as we call them in Portuguese, would be at the top of the list. I love savoury foods more than sweets, which might explain my infatuation with these. Golden-fried pillows from heaven, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I could eat them every day and actually prefer them cold. I recently started serving these with a little Spanish allioli, (also referred to as Aioli in English). This is not traditional but is certainly delicious. Isn't that what should matter? xoxo

Portuguese Salt Cod Croquettes with Garlic Aioli

Makes 30-35 egg size fritters

For the Croquettes:

750 g. Salt cod desalted and rehydrated ready to cook

600 g. Low starch waxy potatoes, such as Maris Piper, skin-on whole

1 small onion finely minced (about 50 g.)

2 Garlic cloves finely minced

75 g. Fresh flat-leaf parsley finely chopped

3 large eggs (you may not use all of them)

60 ml. Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Oil for frying enough to fill the frying pan halfway up the sides.

For the aioli:

Makes about 250 ml./1 cup

2 Egg yolks

4 Garlic cloves

1/4 tsp. Sweet paprika (pimentón)

2 tsp. Lemon juice or white wine vinegar separated

125 ml. Vegetable oil

125 ml. Extra virgin olive oil

30 g. Fresh finely chopped parsley for colour

Salt and white pepper to taste

1. Place potatoes and cod in a large stockpot and gently bring to a boil. Cook the cod for 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and reserve. Cook potatoes for 20-30 mins. more or until a knife inserted goes through easily.

2. Drain potatoes and when cool enough to handle, peel potatoes, place in a large mixing bowl and mash.

3. In a small frying pan add olive oil, onion and garlic, gently cook until onion is translucent. You don't want any colour so keep heat low stirring often. Add to potato mixture.

4. Next remove all pin bones and skin from salt cod. Place cod on half of a clean tea towel and fold other half over to cover cod. Vigorously rub the towel together with the heels of your hands. This should produce lovely, shredded pieces of cod.

5. Add cod to the potato mixture and incorporate well. Taste mixture, adjust salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add eggs one at a time mixing between additions. The mix should be well bound and not too wet, it should be thick. Therefore the use of all the eggs may not be necessary. Add parsley and mix well. The mixture must be cold before frying.

7. Heat oil in a frying pan to 190º C. With the help of two soup spoons, mould the croquettes by alternating the mix between the two spoons until they resemble an egg shape, also called a quenelle. Fry croquettes a few at a time as to not crowd the pan and reduce oil temperature. Use a fork to roll them around in the oil until golden brown on all sides.

8. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with or without aioli sauce.

To make the aioli:

1. In a food processor* add garlic, egg yolks and half of either the vinegar or lemon juice.

2. With the motor running very slowly start adding oils until a thick mayonnaise starts to form. If it seems too thick add remaining vinegar or lemon juice. If the mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue mixing until the mixture comes together, then continue adding oil.

3. Transfer to a bowl, season well with salt and pepper to taste. Add parsley and stir through. Will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

* If you don't have a food processor you can use a bowl and handheld blender, just make sure the garlic is very well crushed.