So you’re probably looking at my picture wondering why the heck I calls these things Codfish Balls when they’re actually more like cakes or patties. Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. All I know is my family and many other New Orleans families refer to them the same way. It is what it is, and I’m not about to shake up the family dynamic by changing the name to fit some textbook or cookbook definition.
Codfish Balls have always been my favorite Lenten meal. Unfortunately, many years ago the canned codfish people (Beaver and maybe Gorton) stopped making the codfish flakes my mom and grandmother used for this recipe and the dish all about disappeared from our family table. But last year, I was determined to share this special tradition with my own kids. So I dusted off the family recipe and revamped it using fresh and frozen cod fillets. Both worked well, they just require an extra step–cooking the fish–and a few more pennies since fresh and frozen fish is more expensive than its canned counterpart.
Now, my family of five likes to eat these babies right out of the frying pan with nothing more than a little ketchup or tartar sauce. And because they go so quickly, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even fuss with a side dish. But if you’re hankering for something more, potato salad, coleslaw or a light green salad would round out the meal rather nicely!
Codfish Balls Recipe
2 medium russet potatoes
1 pound boneless skinless cod fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola oil, for frying
Scrub potatoes under cold water to remove any dirt. Place whole, unpeeled potatoes in a medium stock pot; cover with cold water. Generously season with salt; add bay leaf. Bring potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, until just fork tender, about 15 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, add cod and cook until flaky (potatoes and cod should be done at the same time); drain in a large colander. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins by gently rubbing them with your fingers; discard skins. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl, mash with a fork or potato masher and add onions, green onions, parsley, salt, peppers and egg; stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in cod. Place flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper. Divide cod mixture into 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Flatten each ball into a 3 to 4-inch patty and dredge in flour; transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper (codfish balls can be covered and refrigerated until ready to fry). When ready to fry, heat 1-inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serves 4-6.