Parpuchas – Salt Cod Fritters

Salt cod is a typical Lenten Food in Spain. Whilst the country is not considered as strictly Roman Catholic as it once was, some traditions still remain.

This week is Holy Week, most towns and villages as well as the major cities join in the commemoration with what some might consider quite excessive displays of idolatory. I admit it´s not for me, and I find the penitents who carry the statues around dressed in outfits many of us associate with the Klu Klux Klan  quite disturbing, but I respect the traditions and am happy to join in the with eating and drinking.

Holy Week Procession in Ubeda April 2011
Barefoot Penitent

Parpuchas are known more widely as Tortitas de Bacalao, but they are a very typical dish of Andalucía.  This name may well just be specific to this area.

They are easy to make and if you don´t have de-salted salt cod, fresh cod or any other firm fish would still give you some tasty fritters.  Here they are typically served with Miel de Caña, or Molasses, in the same way as Berenjenas Fritas (Fried Aubergines),but if you prefer lemon…well, I won´t tell anyone!

To make about 15 large fritters or 20 smaller ones

  • 200g salt cod, shredded into small flakes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup of flour (approx)
  • 2 large tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 finely chopped or crushed clove of garlic
  • Salt to taste if you are not using salt cod
  • Oil for deep frying

Add the milk, bicarbonate, parsley, garlic and fish to the beaten eggs and then gradually add the flour until you have a thick batter.  It needs to be about the texture of thick lumpy custard (not that any of you, I am sure, have ever made lumpy custard!).

Heat the oil until a cube of stale bread turns brown quickly when dropped in and then drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil. I used a tablespoon and it gave me rather large parpuchas – I´d recommend using about half a tablespoon full as they will puff up slightly. When they are brown on the bottom (and they will float to the top), flip them over and cook on the other side. They will not be in the oil for long.

Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and sit them on kitchen paper for a few moments and serve hot, drizzled with Miel de Caña (to be typical) but also good with  lemon or tartare sauce. If you make too many, they are still very tasty cold as they retain their texture.