Bolinho de Bacalhau Receita : CodFish Cakes

You may find several cod fish recipes, many may be found using the word bacalhau, Portguese for cod fish. However currently one of the most famous recipe that is constantly growing, is the famous bolinhos de bacalhau or codfish cakes or rolls. It's a delicious meal or appetizer, people who have tried it, become fascinated with it's distinct taste, it's not easy to find in most countries, but any Portuguese or Brazilian grocery outlet will have them, ask for bolinhos de bacalhau, or codfish cakes.
How to make ( bolinhos de bacalhau ) cod fish cakes at home:

First you'll need to stock up with the following ingredients, and from there on I will explain step by step how you can have ( bolinhos de bacalhau ) ready in a flash:

  • 750 g of Codfish (one of the secrets to a good home made ( bolinho de bacalhau ) codfish cake, is using salted and dried cod fish, it will be necessary for you to soak it be cooking, see my post on soaking salted cod fish )
  • 750 g of Potato
  • 200 g of Onion
  • 6 pieces of Garlic
  • 4 Eggs
  • Parsley
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Soak the salted and dried codfish accordingly, make sure it's edible. Peel the potatoes, cutting them into small bits and pieces. The onion, the parsley and the garlic, all ingredientes should be chopped into small bits. Cook the codfish in boiling water. Extract the skin and the bones from the cooked codfish. Wrap the cooked cod fish with a clean cloth and with slight hand pressure mash the codfish.
Boil the potatoes in water, which some salt to give it some flavour, after boiling grind them into mashed potatoes. Add the codfish and the other ingredients the garlic, parsley and the onion, mix everything with the 4 eggs, season the mixture with salt and pepper. Mix it well, the mixture should be even.
The rounded shape of the ( bolinhos de bacalhau ) codfish cakes are obtained by using two spoons to mold the small fish cakes before frying. Fry them in well heated vegetable oil, turning them so every side gets a golden colour. Let them rest on absorbent paper to extract the excess vegetable oil before serving.
Bon appetite.


How to cure salt cod

How to cure salt cod? Cod curing can be done in several ways, one of the most common is using salt. In this post I will explain how to cure cod, this information can be used in industrial environment or even at home, you just have to keep in mind some tips which I will share with you, and surely your results in curing cod will be satisfactory.
Why do we cure cod? This may be on your mind, well mainly for two reasons, to preserve the cod for a long period of time and second to add flavour. The salted and dried cod is a typical food from the Mediterranean cuisine, and believe it or not, the cod may have the same origin, but taste different due to the way cod is cured prior to being cooked.
So how do we cure cod? We start off buy splitting the cod, we give it a butterfly look, this makes it easier and guarantees a quality cure for the whole fish. The cod will have to be well cleaned from any gut residue or others before salting it, during the salting process if the cod is not perfectly clean, yellow and orange markings may appear. A good thing about salting fish is that when well salted your fish will be protected against most bacteria.
After having cleaned thoroughly your cod, you will then need to place it splitted in a salt based recipient, with the back side facing up. Make sure, that between every fish you have no direct contact, salt must be abundant, or your whole effort may be in jeopardy.
The next stage is a very important one, put the recipient in a fridge for a few days. The whole industry secrets are relevant at this point, being the time and the way it's done in the fridge the main distinction in this whole process. A proper cure can take up to 60 days, some say that cod is like old port wine, the more time in staging the better.
After a sufficient time in staging, the drying is essential, do not use heat to accelerate drying, it requires a like breeze and time. From this point on, you'll need to keep checking to see how humid it is, one easy way is to press the flesh, when it hardens it is salted and dried. So, by now you have all the information you may need on how to cure cod. Doing it at home or industrially, sea salt and cod are the main elements. Good luck.


Overfishing : Cod fish quota

I've referred in a prior post to overfishing of the cod fish, and the importance that the International regulations have had to control overfishing, by establishing fishing quotas. I must say that not all is positive, At the beginning of the period when every shipping vessel has its full quota allowance, everything looks and works relatively well. However as the year goes by, not all goes well!
It's called discard, I see this as the most negative thing that is currently into practice, overfishing may not be effective when discards are made constantly at open sea. So what is a discard and how is it related to overfishing? Each vessel has a yearly quota defined by species, which means it may catch x tons of cod fish, y tons of haddock, z of ... and so on...
In truth fishing has evolved so  much since the good old days and a lot of technology and information is used, however the trawler fishing can't control the quantity or the species it captures. So to avoid overfishing and penalties, the whole capture is carefully inspected on board and all fish over quota is discarded, this means dropped back into the ocean dead. Yes, dead! Which means technically it was fished, however it was not registered as part of the quota ... so what happens in reality, is that in certain times of the year more than 50% of the fish that is capture is thrown back into the ocean dead, which avoids penalties and other overfishing official red tape, but in reality, overfishing is still not under control.
And worse, overfishing rules currently, especially through discard practices, increase market prices, makes fishermen do unethical things, and surely s not fully contributing to control overfishing.
In my honest opinion, this overfishing policy has to be adapted quickly to this reality, it is a crime what is being done in mid ocean, and we need to quickly react to this unfortunate thing.
It is sad to see that this reality is known and shared by many people in the industry and every ruling committee, what we can question is how long do we have to wait to see things change? A decade in my opinion has been more than enough waiting period to see change, however we can not hide behind paper forever.


Cod fish facts

Cod fish is a very nutritious food, in fact it has a high nutritive value, with low fat. It is a dense flaky white meat fish, with a mild flavour. These are a few reasons for cod being a popular food in many cultures.
In truth cod is a a good solid protein source, these proteins are easily absorbed with, as mentioned before low fat or carbohydrates. Besides proteins cod fish also has many other nutrients that are essential to your health.

Cod Fish Nutritional Info per 100 gr
  • Calories : 82
  • Fat Calories: 6,0
  • Total Fat: 0,7 gr
  • Saturated Fat: 0,1 gr
  • Cholesterol: 43 mg
  • Sodium: 54 mg
  • Protein: 17,8 gr
  • Omega-3: 2 gr

Besides the nutritional values, cod fish meals have healthy effects like improving your cardiovascular health, improving skin protection, increases heart muscle function.
Cardiovascular improvements from cod fish diets are a reality, reduction of atherosclerosis and heart disease, are some of the benefits, especially for those who suffer from diabetes. It is proven that cod fish being part of a regular diet will reduce significantly the risk of heart attack. It's vitamins B12 and B6 helps maintain homocysteine at low levels, which has an important and healthy effect on blood vessels wall tissues.
Cod fish is also an important source of Omega 3, it has a positive healthy effect on improving heart muscle. Besides the reduction in ischemic stroke risk, a fish rich diet can reduce you triglyceride levels, improving your cholesterol.
It is scientifically proven that consumption of cod fish as part of a regular diet will improve you skin protection, in fact cod fish nutrients will have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body skin.
Cod fish is a delicious dish that can be cooked in hundreds of ways, so can never really get bored, and simultaneously you will be eating a very nutritious and healthy food.


Some Cod Facts

Some cod facts, this post is dedicated to facts about cod fish, hope to answer some frequent questions.

What do cod fish eat?

One cod fact is that Cod fish are carnivorous they eat other fish like crabs, mussels, clams, herring and other fish. You can tell the cod fishes diet from the state of their teeth. Cod fish teeth's are very sharp, irregular and pointed like in figure. They do not have molar type teeth to grind their food. If the cod has sharp teeth it's probably because they have a diet based on herring and other soft meat fish. The cod fish with dull teeth will commonly feed on bottom ocean floor species like crabs, mussels and clams, whose hardness tend to be abrasive on the fishes teeth.

How big can a cod fish grow?

Interesting cod facts say that Cod fish can grow to be quite big, their are reports of codfish weighing more than 70 kg. The most common size is between 2 and 10 kg, being the more commercial size fish. It takes about 3 years for a cod to reach 2,5 kg in weight.

Cod reproduction

There are International strict laws regarding fishing, which has helped the sustainability of the cod species, each year fishing quotas are defined and rigorously controlled.
Spawning season, is from October to April, some cod swim south to warmer waters to spawn. During this spawning season it's common to find cod in schools of fish. The female may lay millions of eggs in mid-ocean, being that few survive.

Cod Colouring

As mentioned cod may be found at several depths in the Ocean, Atlantic cod will change colours according to the water depth, being that it may assume two different colours: gray-green shade and a reddish-brown shade.

Cod processing

Cod processing is a very tough job. Dressing large cod will require anchoring it by the mouth. Due to these continuous actions safety equipment is essential. The head may or not be removed, for frozen whole cod it's common to be sold H/G, this means headless and gutted. The collar bone may or not be part of the body. When dealing with salted and dried cod, the most common features of the fish is H/G headed and gutted with collar bone.
The raw material to process salted and dried cod may be supplied either fresh or frozen. Although frozen may reduce breakage during processing.
You may also have, line fished cod or trawl (net) fished, when fish are line fished they tend to have less stressful contacts with other fish, making it a prime quality item. The trawl (net) fishing method if not done accordingly can deliver fish with bruised flesh, which gives the end product a dark grey colouring. The on board freezing and handling process is essential to guarantee high quality.


Curing Fish: Salted Cod

Cod fish can be sold in several forms, fresh or dried, being very common to get cod salted and dried. Cod like every dry fish can have several types of cure, in truth each cure is separated by the humidity level of the salted cod, commercially the most common are:
- salted and dried cod fish
- semi dry cod fish
- wet salted cod fish

Salted and dried cod fish
Salted and dried cod fish is a common cure in some cultures for cod fish, this type of cure is sometimes called the Portuguese cure, being that the Portuguese culture is one of the main consumers of cod fish in the World. The Portuguese cure is basically the same as a salted and dried cure with 47% humidity level. Salt is used to preserve the cod fish, the salt content should be above 16% to guarantee a proper conservation of the cod fish. As mentioned before the humidity level is what distinguishes the types of cure, being the salted and dried cod fish having a humidity level between 45-47%.
In the past, the splitted cod fish would be dried in the sun. However today, in great part due to production requirements and also some health and safety issues, the cod fish is dried in wind tunnels, being the humidity and temperature levels controlled rigorously.
Salted and dried cod needs a refrigerated environment to preserve it's quality for a longer period, although in some countries it may not be necessary. A 4-7 ºC environment is perfect for this product, increasing it's durability. The less humidity the salted cod has the easier it is to preserve, being the salted and dried cod fish the one that has a better performance of all three types mentioned.

Semi dry cod fish or 3/4 cure
The semi dry cod fish or 3/4 cure requires the cod fish to attain a 48-50% humidity level, being the salt content as mentioned above 16%.
This type of cure is common in some Western European countries, being that it needs a refrigerated environment 4-7ºC to preserve it's quality.

Wet salted cod fish
Wet salted cod fish is very common in some cultures, it's humidity levels are higher than the ones already mentioned, and are normally between 51% and 55%, with a salt content also above 16%. Wet salted cod fish requires a more refrigerated environment being 1-4ºC adequate for this product.

We have mention three types of cure for salted cod fish, being these mentioned as the most common ones found in the market. Although cod fish is very adaptive to clients needs, you may find several differences when comparing producers, so I've provided general guidelines for cod curing.
If you purchase salted cod make sure you correctly soak it, this way you'll guarantee it's wonderful taste and flavour. You can actually read more on how to soak a salted and dried cod fish on one of my previous posts, as I have written about this important part of cod fish cooking.


Cod cooking

Cod cooking may be a challenge for who has no idea about cod and cod processing. In truth cod cooking may need a previous soaking of the salted and dried cod. So how do you soak a salted and dry cod? Besides soaking a salted and dried cod before you do your cod cooking, you may even have other problems that you may not of been aware of, namely you probably bought a whole splitted salted and dried cod fish. How to cut a whole splitted salted and dried cod fish? I plan to answer both these questions on this post making your cod cooking an enjoyable thing for you and you family.
Well you can find several types of cod on the market, but frequently you'll find salted and dried cod, to make it edible it's important that you soak it properly, this means that your cod when ready for cooking will not be too salty or too stale. It's really important to soak your salted and dried cod properly, or you'll never really get a true flavour and taste.

How to cut your whole splitted salted and dried cod fish?

Its really common in some countries to buy whole splitted salted and dried cod fish. This type of conservation was used in the past to preserve food during long ocean voyages. And cod specifically could withstand long periods of time, so it was one of the main food products used in the great voyages all over the world.
The salted and dried cod as you may see in the picture has a triangular format, it's split just before the salting and drying. When you buy it the whole split salted and dried cod is roughly solid, if it bends easily this means that the humidity level may be to high, the common number for humidity level on a salted and dried cod is between 45 and 47%.
The cod will have to be cut into smaller pieces, depending on your intention to cook it, you should ask it to be cut accordingly. Many supermarkets do have cutting facilities for customers who buy cod. I personally buy salted and dried cod frequently, so I always ask for a loin cut, this means that I intend to have as many loins pieces as possible, basically the center area of the fish catching the spinal cord.
So basically we can divide the cod fish into the following common parts:
  • loins
  • napes or wings
  • tail
  • collar bone area

How to soak a salted and dried cod?
Salted and dried cod are a result of ancient methods used still today, they preserves the cod during a long period and maintain all characteristics and nutrients of the fresh fish, improving its flavour and taste.
A correct soaking of the cod will give you a well salt balanced cod ready to cook. In order to achieve a good soaking of your salted and dried cod you will need to cut your whole cod first, just like I explained, the soaking process is done with the cut to size pieces making it easier and more balanced.
First step is to put some cold water into a recipiente, this recipiente will have to be big enough to put every piece in and be totally immersed in the cold water. Cold water is important, especially in the summer or in countries with hot temperatures, it preserves the cod fish during the soaking process. Dip the pieces in with the skin turned to the surface, exchange the water with clean water every 8-12 hours (at least once a day). Depending on the thickness of the cod fish pieces between 60 and 72 hours your cod fish will be ready to be consumed. Exchanging the water is important, as the water is quickly saturated with salt, and clean water will effectively help the soaking of the cod fish pieces.


Codfish, Morue or Kabeljau

Codfish as said in English, morue for the French or kabeljau for the German, truth is that it's an important part of many cuisines, being Europe the hot spot for traditional cod dishes.
Codfish is an Ocean fish, it enjoys cold water, tends to swim in the Northern hemishphere in cold waters just off Canada, Norway, Russia, Iceland  (Northern Atlantic Ocean) .... The true codfish is a Gadus Morhua specie, found in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Although many tend to assotiate cod with Norway, you may find good quality Gadus Morhua codfish in several countries like Russia, Iceland and Canada, they are fished in FAO 27 and FAO 21.
You can also find other codfish species like Gaus Macrocephalus, which is a Pacific codfish, it's fished in the FAO 67 region.
Salted Cod fish became famous among shipping vessels, due to it being long lasting, so it was commonly used in the long historical voyages as a food supply for there crew. A salted cod fish can whithstand a great period of time without getting spoiled.

Traditionally the Portuguese are known to be the ones who promoted salted cod among the world, even today the Portuguese are among the main consumers of this fish. The traditional salted cod has been done on the Portuguese coast for many generations.
The salted cod, besides it historical part as a important part in long range vessel onboard cuisine, it  also gives a special flavour and taste to it, making it an important part of the Portuguese cuisine.
In the industry we will find several types of cure for the cod fish, all are salted, the salt has a chemical effect on the fish protecting and preserving it. Besides salted and dried which has a humidity level of less than 47%, we may find semi dry with a 48-50% humidity level, or a wet salted which will have a higher than 51% humidity level. The cod is fished in the Northern Atlantic or Northern Pacific Ocean and frozen in blocks on board the fishing vessels. The frozen cod arrives at the processing plants to be salted and cured, this process I entend to draw up a detailed post, the salted and cured cod is then sold splitted as a whole fish. It may also be processed into smaller pieces like loins, wings, tails, bits, etc.


Salted Cod

Welcome to my Salted Cod blog. I will begin a new journey today. This blog tends to help people, consumers and specialized traders in the industry about facts and issues regarding the Cod fish industry.
To make this place a welcome mat for all, I will try to post general information, like cod recipes and industry information, like the species, how things work, how to distinguish several types of cod, and how to prepare it for a delicious dish.
In truth cod fish has historically played an important part in many cuisines all over the World. And their are specific things regarding several consuming societies and I wish to reveal what I know and have learned through my experience in the field.
So, either salted, dry, frozen, cod will be the main character of this blog, and hopefully in time we will all share useful information that will constantly be helping us on our day-to-day life.
To my readers, this journey has just begun, I hope I can fulfil the information gaps that you may request. Feel free to comment, I appreciate every information that you may add, as I'm an eternal learner, as well as a writer.