Pasteis de Bacalhau | Bolinhos de Bacalhau | Codfish Croquettes

Bolinhos de Bacalhau are probably the most popular appetizer in Portuguese cuisine. They are served at every party, gathering, and celebrations.

They are considered a must have traditional appetizer on the Portuguese Christmas Eve table!

Although it seems like a difficult process to prepare, they are relatively easy. After making them a few times, you’ll soon be a pro and the hit of the party!

The only caution I can give you is be ready to make these many times because you will be asked, and begged to make them often! I promise there will be no leftovers!

Enjoy our latest youtube video!!

How to re-hydrate salt cod:

If you have a whole salt cod, cut it into portions of 4 x 6 inches. Rinse with cold water and place covered in large pan with cold water for 2 days in the refrigerator, changing the water twice a day until the heavy saltiness is gone. If your cod is very thick you may need to soak it longer.

To test for saltiness, cut a small piece of the cod and taste. It should taste like cod but still have some salt.

Do not let the cod sit for more than 3 days in the water since it will become mealy and tasteless.

Freeze in serving portions in plastic bags.

Pasteis de Bacalhau recipe video below:


2 pounds boneless re hydrated salt cod

8 large russet or Idaho Potatoes

6 X large eggs

1 medium onion (finely minced)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh parsley (finely minced)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Vegetable or Corn oil for frying (note: use a good quality oil, not generic brand)


Place potatoes, and cod fish in a pan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat at a low rolling boil for about 10 minutes. The salt in the cod should be enough to salt the potatoes, but I recommend tasting a potato and then adding more salt if you find the potatoes need it.

Gently remove the codfish which should be flaky and tender with a slotted spoon and place on a clean white linen kitchen towel or paper towels to absorb its moisture.

Continue cooking the potatoes for another 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain them, leave in the same pan, cover and place back on the burner (turned off) for a few minutes. This will allow any moisture out of the potatoes.

When the potatoes and cod are cooled you can begin making the batter.

Remove any pin bones and roll the cod in the towel to form a ball and squeeze out any moisture. Set aside.

Prepare Batter:

Run the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl. This will make them very airy and light. If you don’t have a ricer, shred with a cheese shredder.

Flake the cod into tiny shreds with a fork or in a food processor until flaky and light.

Add the flaked cod, onion, garlic, parsley, beaten eggs and pepper to the potatoes and stir to incorporate ingredients.

Your batter should be thick enough to form oval croquettes for frying. If you find it’s too soft, simply add more flaked cod or riced potatoes.

Note: At this point, you may also form them, and store them in freezer bags to cook at a later date.

Heat your oil in your deep fryer to about 365 to 375 degrees F and begin frying 3 – 5  at a time depending on the size your fryer, for about 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.

Place the cooked fritter on paper towels to absorb any grease.

Note: Test the first batch to be sure they are fully cooked inside. You may have to adjust the heat lower if you find they are turning brown too quickly and not cooking on the inside.

Serve warm or cold.

Note If frozen: Fry them while still frozen but it may take longer to cook them through.


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