Bacalaítos are a wonderful treat for any Puerto Rican. You should see the look of excitement on the faces of both Milagros and my husband when you mention these! This batter is so authentic tasting that it is hard to believe it’s not full of gluten. Milagros told me that growing up in the mountainous region of Arecibo in Puerto Rico, she rarely ate seafood. The one exception was bacalao, which is salt-preserved cod. Fresh poached cod will work and is also delicious, but the texture is less dense.
- Yield: 6 Servings 12 to 14 Small Fritters
- 8 oz (225 g) bacalao or poached fresh cod
- 2 tbsp (14 g) sifted coconut flour
- 1 cup (120 g) sifted cassava flour
- ½ tsp fine Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp (10 g) minced garlic
- 1 tbsp (1 g) minced culantro or cilantro
- 1½ cups (355 g) sparkling water
- ¼ cup (56 g) fat of choice for frying (lard, coconut oil or avocado oil)
- A day in advance, soak the bacalao. Place it in a bowl and cover with water, changing the water 4 to 6 times over the next 24 hours, or according to the package directions. Bacalao is ready when it does not taste salty. Drain the desalinated bacalao and shred it into small pieces using your fingers, removing and discarding any bone fragments.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, cassava flour, salt, pepper, garlic and culantro and stir well. Pour in the sparkling water and stir until a batter forms. Stir in the bacalao shreds.
- In a small or medium skillet, heat your fat of choice. (Using a smaller pan means you use less fat, but it takes longer to cook all the fritters.)
- Traditionally, bacalaítos are quite large, but due to the blend of gluten-free flours these are easier to cook if you make them smaller, 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) in diameter. Pour portions of the batter into your heated fat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Cook the fritters in batches until all the batter is used up.
- Serve immediately, pairing with a dipping sauce from the “Los Esenciales” chapter, if desired.