Italian Baccala – Salt Cod Fritters with Aioli Dip

Do you remember Baccala from back in the day? Baccala is dried, salted Cod that is excellent if done properly. This is a recipe that we recommend. It is easier than some and yields what looks like a fish cake. We love it. 

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    • 1 pound salt cod

    • 1¼ pounds Idaho (russet) potatoes

    • 1¼ cups milk

    • 6 green onions finely chopped

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    • Juice of ½ lemon

    • 2 eggs, beaten

    • Plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting

    • 3½ oz. dried white breadcrumbs

    • Olive oil , for shallow frying

    • Lemon wedges and salad leaves, to serve

Aioli Dip:

  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1¼ cups olive oil

  • Juice of ½ lemon, to taste


  1. Soak the salt cod in cold water for at least 24 hours, changing the water two or three times. The cod should swell as it rehydrates. Sample a tiny piece. It should not taste unpleasantly salty when fully rehydrated. Drain well and pat dry with kitchen paper.

  2. Cook the potatoes, unpeeled, in a pan of lightly salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, then mash with a potato masher.

  3. Pour the milk into a pan, add half the green onions and bring to a simmer. Add the soaked cod and poach very gently for 10 to15 minutes, or until it flakes easily. Remove the cod and flake it with a fork into a bowl, discarding bones and skin.

  4. Add 4 tablespoons of mashed potato to the cod and beat them together with a wooden spoon. Work in the olive oil, then gradually add the remaining mashed potato. Beat in the remaining green onions and the parsley.

  5. Season with lemon juice and pepper to taste—the mixture may also need a little salt but taste it before adding any. Add one egg to the mixture and beat it until thoroughly combined, then chill until firm.

  6. Shape the chilled fish mixture into 12 to 18 balls, then gently flatten into small round cakes. Coat each one in flour, then dip in the remaining beaten egg and coat with dried breadcrumbs. Chill until ready to fry.

  7. Meanwhile, make the aioli. Place the garlic and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pound to a paste with a pestle. Using a small whisk or a wooden spoon, gradually work in the egg yolks.

  8. Beat in about half the olive oil, a drop at a time. When the sauce is as thick as soft butter, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Continue adding oil until the aioli is very thick. Season to taste, adding more lemon juice if you wish.

  9. Heat about ¾ inch oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the fritters and cook over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes. Turn them over and cook for a further 4 minutes on the other side, until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with the aioli and lemon wedges.

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