Street food, from any culture, always feels to be to be the best damn food around. Constraints on any process often yield the best results and the inherent constraints on street food (cheap, fast to prepare, etc) really seem to work. Other than once upon a time catching a giant fish in Puerto Rico (710 pound blue marlin), I know very little about Puerto Rico but I found a reference to Bacalaitos in a science fiction novel and they seemed wonderful so …
Note: Sofrito isn’t something I regularly keep around so I made an approximation that I think came out well but since I haven’t had any Bacalaitos other than mine, well, who really knows …
Ingredients - Sofrito
- 1/4 of a Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 1/2 of a Jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced
- 1/4 of a White Onion, diced
- 1/4 of a Tomato, cored and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic very, very finely minced
- 3 tbsp Cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil as a binder
- 1/2 tsp salt
Ingredients - Bacalaitos
- 1/2 lbs salted cod
- 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cup of water
- 1 tbs sofrito (or more; above makes more but I like veggies in my Bacalaitos)
- vegtable oil
Steps - Salted Cod Preparation
I always thought Salted Cod had to be soaked overnight. Apparently that is not the case. Here’s how to prepare it:
- Rinse cod under cold water to remove some of the salt.
- Boil cod in a large pot for 15 minutes.
- Change water and boil for another 15 minutes.
- Drain the cod and set aside until it is cool enought to handle.
- Shred the cod using your fingers make sure that there are no bones and remove any skin, set aside.
Steps - Sofrito by Scott
Sofrito is apparently what amounts to a Puerto Rican salsa that you add to an awful lot of things. Normally Sofrito calls for culantro which you can’t get in the U.S. easily but the substitute is simple – double the cilantro. The way I make it is closer to a Pico De Gallo and it is simpler and more “fresh vegetable’ish”. Additionally you tend to make Sofrito in a large batch and keep it around since it is a mother spice and is used in many, many, many dishes. I cook Puerto Rican food only occasionally so I wanted something I could make on an ad hoc basis. And, finally, my apologies to people of Puerto Rican heritage – this isn’t my native cuisine and I’m riff’ing on it (but at least I am admitting it).
- Dice peppers, onions and tomatoes per instructions above.
- Very, very finely mince the garlic. We aren’t feeding this thru a blender so if there are big pieces of garlic they will be unpleasant.
- Dice the cilantro and fold into the other ingredients.
- Add the olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt.
You will end up with far more than a tablespoon of “sofrito” but you can either add more to the fritters (vegetables are good) or save it for another recipe.
Note: If you have a good ethnic market you can likely buy this in a jar. I perhaps should have; sigh.
Steps - Bacalaitos
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sofrito together in a bowl.
- Add water a little at a time, whisking together until well combined and smooth, fold in shredded cod.
- Heat oil in a deep skillet to 375 degrees.
- Ladle batter into oil, be sure not to crowd the fritters or they may stick together. Fry until they are a nice golden color, turning once.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove any batter bits that are floating in the oil
- Drain on plate lined with paper towel.