Salt-cod balls are ubiquitous in Brazil’s bars and restaurants, but they’re a snap to make at home. If you don’t have the time to soak the salt cod for at least 48 hours, you can use fresh cod. Bake it at 375 F until it’s cooked through and flakes easily with a fork (about 15 to 18 minutes). Then add 1½ teaspoons of salt and follow the rest of the recipe.
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Salt cod balls
1 lb dry salted cod
¾ lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
½ small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
Peanut or canola oil for frying
1½ cups panko crumbs
Hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Place salt cod in a roasting pan or rimmed baking dish and fill with enough cold water to submerge fish. Refrigerate for at least 48 hours and up to 72 hours, changing the water twice a day. (Ideally, you should leave it for 72 hours. This process removes all the salt.)
Drain the fish and pat it dry with paper towel. Coarsely shred the cod into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender (about 10 to 12 minutes). Drain, place in a different large pot and mash until smooth. Add fish to potato mixture. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions and garlic until translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the onions to the fish and potato, along with fresh herbs, lemon zest and egg. Mix until well incorporated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a ¼-cup scoop, form the mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet.
Refrigerate the balls for at least 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to fry, fill a large pot halfway with peanut or canola oil. Heat over medium-high until it reaches 365 to 375 F. (It’s hot enough when you add a small cube of bread and it browns within 60 seconds.) Place panko crumbs in a small bowl. Roll each ball lightly in panko and add to hot oil. Fry until they’re crispy and golden (about 4 to 6 minutes).
To make the garlic-lime mayo, mix together mayonnaise, garlic, lime zest and lime juice.
Transfer balls to a paper-towel-lined platter and serve with lime wedges, hot sauce and garlic-lime mayo
Suggested Wine Pairings
Betting on Brazil to win the World Cup? That’s smart money. Intend on tossing back a few Brazilian cold ones to get in the spirit of the tourney? Dumb money. Great Brazilian beer is as hard to come by as an overdressed woman on Ipanema beach.
For this menu’s enticingly fried cod pieces (you knew that was coming – sha-zing!), I would suggest a refreshing Quebec brew with fruity-spicy depth and rich texture as well as freshness. Unibroue specializes in Belgian-style beers with a funky aromatic quality and density owing to extended contact with cloudy yeast sediment. This choice offers a crisp citrus character to cut through the fish’s deep-fried quality and a clove-and-coriander spiciness that kicks these balls past the goal line. - Beppi Crosariol