Thursday, January 15, 2015
Cod Cakes and History
This is the story of Cod Cakes. I made them the other night, and they were delicious. A cod fish is really quite an ugly fish. But, like an alluring woman, the cod has made men wander far from home, searching for them. Nations were made, and lost because of them. Ships were built, sailed, lost at sea. Some even came back home loaded with them. Our country flourished because of them. Wars were fought over them.
This story begins with a cute little wooden box. Of salt cod. And two young men who had recently fledged their nests. Awesome find at the grocery store, this little wooden box. It definitely has possibilities. And salt cod? Surely it's much like beef jerky. You can gnaw on it. No refrigeration, no cooking. Right? Especially if you live the young mans dream. The perfect bachelor life in the carriage shed of a house. A house with a name, even. A wood stove and a lantern? You are all set.
Much to their surprise, chagrin, even, salt cod is not like beef jerky. In its just out of the box state it is actually inedible. Yep. That is why they made salt cod. Long before the colonists came to Cape Cod, long before the Vikings came to North America, the Basques came. They came chasing the glorious cod fish. They stayed, and salted the fish to fill their boats and then brought them back to Europe. Salt cod fed the medieval peasants.
Any way, this Gramma came to the rescue, and made them cod cakes, to show them how you use salt cod.
This is a one pound box, so it ends up being a lot of fish. After you soak it! I put it in a stainless steel bowl, covered it with cold water and put it in the refrigerator for twenty four hours. During that time, I poured all the water off, rinsed the fish and covered it with fresh water four times. This takes out the salt and plumps up the fish, which miraculously looks like fresh filets again. Put it in a colander to drain.
Wash, peel and dice fairly small, five medium potatoes. Boil them until soft. Drain. Now comes the tedious part. You need to shred the fish. its a little tough, but you can do it! This step would be much easier with fresh, boiled cod. Put the potatoes and shredded cod in a large bowl. Add one medium onion, diced small.
The onions go in with the fish and potatoes. Add two beaten eggs, four tablespoons of flour ( I used Gluten free), a squeeze of lemon juice, or lemon thyme, and mash them all together with a potato masher. Shape them into patties. Beat an egg with a little water in a shallow bowl. Dip each patty in the egg wash, then in crumbs of your choice.. panko, ritz, I used GF cornflakes that I pulverized in my blender. I put them on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. I made about twenty patties. Put them in the refrigerator to firm up, as this makes it easier to handle when you fry them. At this point you can also freeze them, or some of them if you don't think you can eat that many.
Now you're free to go read a book or whatever, til supper time!
When you are ready to cook them, get out the old cast iron. Heat up about an inch deep oil of choice. I saved some bacon grease from breakfast and added that for extra flavor. In my ten inch pan, I could do five patties at a time, two minutes per side. We had tiny red skin potatoes and over easy eggs with ours. I made tartar sauce for them, too. ( Mix some mayo with a nice glob of relish and a drop of maple syrup.)
The early colonists used every part of the cod fish. Skin, bones, insides. Not just the prize pieces of fish. I am sure they would be horrified at our wastefulness. Thanks to the iron horse cowboy, who just happened to be reading a book about the history of cod fishing. Jakob and Dillion got a good meal, and a history lesson along with it. You can't beat that!