It’s time to fry something. What’s a sunny summer afternoon without standing around indoors over a vat of boiling oil? Wasted, I say! After all, the modest warmth of a 90 degree day cannot possibly compare with a 370-degree pot of crackling goodness, whether you’re cooking fritters or preparing to repel some medieval marauders (this post will henceforth refer exclusively to the former practice.)
At a dinner party the other day, I offered up these yummy morsels, with a pair of dipping sauces.
Serves:8-10 people as an appetizer
Usually you hear about salt cod fritters. This is a similar recipe, but I’m going with fresh cod to save some of the prep time.
Prep time: 3ish hours
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Leftovers: The fritters can be frozen either before or after cooking and will keep for up to a month in the freezer, or up to a week in the refrigerator. Baking them in a toaster oven to reheat them can be done on low heat (300-35o).
The aiolis (aioliae? Any Latin and/or Italian experts in the house?) will keep up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for the fritters:
- 1 lb. boneless fresh cod
- 2-3 medium yellow potatoes
- 1 small onion, in a small dice
- 2-3 cups milk
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh parsley – 1/4 c. chopped
- Fresh cilantro – 1/8 c. chopped (optional)
- 2 scallions, finely chopped (optional)
- Fresh ground pepper
- 2 eggs, preferably from the same unblemished chicken
- 1-3 cups panko bread flakes
- 1 lemon
Ingredients for the aiolis:
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 c. Dijon mustard
- 1 red pepper, seeds and stem removed, roasted and dried (I used a canned one)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/8 c. chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
There are 3 things to prep beforehand. First, de-bone and skin the cod, then simmer it in the milk for 20-25 minutes. Drain, rinse, and let it cool on a stack of paper towels. Second, skin the potatoes and dice them into 1/2″ cubes. Boil them in heavily salted water until they come apart easily with a fork. Drain and let cool on a similar (yet “more different”) stack of paper towels. Third, if you are using a raw red pepper, remove the seed, insides, and stem, and roast it either in the oven or on a grill. If using a canned one, pat it dry, remove the charred flakes of the skin, and pat it dry on both sides with yet another stack of paper towels, leaving it to dry.
After things have dried for an hour or more (changing paper towels as necessary), whip out your finest set of mixing bowls and set to work! We’ll do this in 3 parts – the fritter prep, the sauces, then the cooking of the fritters.
Fine-chop the parsley, cilantro, and scallions (whichever you’re using). Mince the garlic, and dice the onion to a small dice (1/4″ cubes). With a potato masher or a fork, mash together the deboned fish and the potatoes. Combine them, the onion, the herbs, and 2 eggs, and mix thoroughly, and add 1 tsp. of pepper, 1-2 tsp. of salt, and a whole buncha red pepper flakes (depending on how redpepperflaky you want it to be.)
At this point, you should have a good sense of how damp the mixture is – if it feels overly moist, such that it won’t hold together when you form it into a ball, add some of the panko flakes (leaving at least 1 cup for the next step.) You do want some moisture left, so that the remaining panko flakes will stick to the outside. Form the fritters into 1″ – 1.5″ balls, roll them in the remaining panko flakes until they’re coated, and set them aside. These can be refrigerated up to a day, or frozen for later use.
Aioli, and also Aioli
We’ll make a mayonnaise first, from which we’ll then construct the two aiolis. Beat the egg yolks, the lemon juice, and the red wine vinegar together with a whisk. Begin to drizzle the oil in, a tiny bit at a time, whisking constantly. Once the initial small amounts of oil are mixing in easily, add it more quickly, until it begins to take the consistency of a mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste. Split the mayonnaise into two halves.
With the first half of the mayonnaise, add it to a blender with 2 cloves of garlic, and the dried red pepper skin. Blend until liquefied. Re-taste and add salt and pepper as needed. This is your red pepper aioli! But don’t get cocky – we’re not out of the woods yet.
With the other half of the mayonnaise, mix in the Dijon mustard, the chopped basil, the chopped parsley, and add cracked pepper to taste. This would be your Dijon herb aioli.
It’s Business Time! Heat a saucepan of canola or vegetable oil to 370 F. Add the fritters, 5-8 at a time, making sure they don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pan – a quick tap with a wooden spoon is usually enough to separate them. If you have enough oil to immerse them, let them cook 4-6 minutes, until they’re golden brown. If the oil only partially covers them, turn them every minute or so to get them to cook evenly. Remove and set them on your final stack of paper towels (you did set one final stack aside, right?)
Serve with the two dipping sauces, over a decorative bed of arugula or spinach, and lemon wedges.
- Add some finely diced, cooked asparagus or broccoli pieces into the fritter mix.
- Use an egg wash and a batter instead of the panko flakes to make the fritters more like croquettes.
- Add cayenne pepper to the red pepper aioli.
- Add the juice of a squeezed lemon to the Dijon herb aioli to make it a lemon Dijon sauce.
- Mix in some crab meat to add another flavor to the fritters.
Protein: Medium-low. It’s got cod in it, but then again, it’s an appetizer, so you’re not eating a lot of it.
Fat: Medium, mostly from the deep frying and a little from the mayonnaise.
Carbs: Medium, from the potatoes and the panko.
Test Subject D enjoyed them – particularly the ones that had cooked a little bit longer. He preferred the Dijon sauce to the red pepper one, but then again, as neither he nor I is a huge fan of red peppers, that’s kinda understandable. They were a big hit at the dinner party when I first made them a few weeks ago!
This week, get ready for the return of my Sous Chef! He’s back!