Spicy cod fritters
These crispy cod fritters from the French Antilles make a great start to a festive occasion. They are both easy and fun to make. You mince fresh cod in a food processor, add shallot, parsley, allspice and hot pepper, make a batter, mix it all together and deep fry in hot oil.
The fritters can be served straight of the pot or made ahead of time and reheated. The trick is to keep frying until they are a deep golden brown — when you think they’re done, count to ten before removing. And for best results, don’t crowd the pot. With a medium saucepan, you can cook them in batches of five or six. It goes quickly.
Serve the fritters on their own with a slice of lime, or with the traditional accompaniment, sauce chien — a mix of herbs, onion, garlic, lime juice, hot pepper and olive oil. If you prefer, you can make cocktail sauce by mixing ketchup with horseradish and lemon juice, or tartar sauce by mixing mayonnaise, lemon juice and chopped capers.
The traditional drink to serve with the fritters is ti punch, a mixture of lime, raw sugar and rum. If you prefer wine, choose a chilled white or rosé.
The quantities below will make about 24 small fritters.
5 ounces (140 g) fillet of cod
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 bird’s eye pepper or 1 dried cayenne pepper
2/3 cup (90 g) flour
2 tsp. baking powder (1/2 sachet levure alsacienne)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. (140 ml) water
juice of 1/2 lime
2 cups (1/2 liter) cooking oil
1 bread cube
Pat the cod dry and check to make sure there aren’t any bones. If you find any, cut them away and discard. Chop the cod into medium pieces and mince in a food processor until there are no lumps. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Finely mince the shallot and add to the bowl. Add the parsley and allspice.
If using a bird’s-eye pepper, slice in half, remove all the seeds and mince finely. If using a cayenne pepper, crush in a mortar and pestle or between paper towels. Add to the fish.
To make the batter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Stir in the water little by little. Add the lime juice and stir or whisk until smooth.
Add the fish mixture to the batter and blend well.
Now you’re ready to cook the fritters. Pour the oil into a sturdy saucepan — the oil should be at least 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) deep. Place over high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the bread cube — when it turns golden, the oil is hot enough.
Cook the fritters in batches. Using a teaspoon, drop one spoonful at a time of batter into the hot oil until five or six are frying. Each spoonful of batter will form itself into a little ball. Fry for a couple of minutes, then flip the fritters over to ensure they brown evenly.
While the first batch is frying, line a large plate with several layers of paper towels. As each batch is ready, remove to the paper towels to drain, then start on the next batch. Each batch takes about 3-4 minutes.
Serve the fritters piping hot, either straight out of the pot or after reheating in a medium oven for 5-10 minutes. Serve with slices of lime and the sauce of your choice (see above).
Serves 4-6 people.