8 oz salt cod
4 cups finely grated Russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
1 small onion, grated
3 leeks (white parts only), chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup matzo meal
freshly ground black pepper
36 hours before you want to make the cakes:
Place the cod in a bowl or resealable bag of cool water. The cod should be fully covered. Cover with a lid or seal and refrigerate. Over the next 36 hours change out the water periodically (we did first thing in the morning, lunchtime, dinner time and before bedtime).
Remove the cod and finely chop or pulse in a food processor until minced.
In a large cast-iron skillet or another heavy-bottomed pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil.
Place the potato into a metal sieve over a large bowl. Press out any liquid. Pour out the liquid and place the potatoes in the bowl on top of the remaining starch. Stir in cod, onion, eggs, leeks, pepper, and the matzo meal. Form into flat patties. If they will not hold their shape, stir in additional matzo meal until they do. Fry in hot oil, flipping halfway through, until just golden.
When we went to Portugal (five years ago, how can that be?) we had the good fortune to try many things made with salt cod, bacalhau. Supposedly there is one salt cod dish for every day of the year! Most often you see it in Pastéis de Bacalhau (aka Bolinhos de Bacalhau, Portuguese Cod Cakes) and in another favorite of mine, Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is often served on Christmas Eve but it really is a way more versatile seafood than you’d think.
It goes great with potatoes which was the inspiration for these latkes, just in time for Hanukkah. I have zero reasons to think these are authenticly Portuguese in any way–they are quite a few Jewish dishes that remain popular in Portugal but latkes aren’t one of them. However, these are very delicious and a filling, flavorful change from plain latkes. Super savory and crispy.
It does take three days to prep the fish so go shopping now–regular supermarkets in my area carry salt cod year-round as do many Italian and Portuguese markets.