Bolinho de bacalhau and Mandioca Frita (salt cod cakes and fried cassava)

Bacalhau is a very used cooking ingredient in Portugal, Galicia and Brazil. Before refrigeration the Portuguese use this method of preservation by drying and salting to preserve the cod nutrients.
Salt cod has been produced for at least 500 years, since the time of the European discoveries in the New World (The Americas). It’s believed there are over 257 bacalhau recipes, apparently you can cook and eat a different new recipe each day of the year. Here is the most popular of them:

Bolinho de Bacalhau ( salt cod cakes)

  • 1 lb of salt cod fillets (no other dried salt fish will do for authentic flavor)
  • 2 medium-sized  potatoes
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  •  Oil for frying


1 Boil and mash the potatoes, set them aside.
2 Boil the codfish until it flakes easily. Drain and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones.
3 Mix the flaked fish, the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients together well by hand. If the mixture is too crumbly, add another egg. If too sticky, add some more bread crumbs.
4 Form the mixture into cakes and fry them on medium high heat in a skillet coated with oil.

Yield: Makes 12 fish cakes. Serves 4-6.

Mandioca Frita (Fried Cassava)

Cassava is know as well as Manioc or Yuca in the Spanish speaking world. They are also called Macaxeira and Aipim  in different parts of Brazil. Tapioka or manioka in Polynesia and diverse of names around the African and Eastern world. They are woody bush and cultivated in the tropics. The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1mm thick, rough and brown on the outside.

remove the veins, they are tuff!

A woody vein runs along the root’s body.  The flesh is chalk-white. Cassava roots are very rich in starchy and contain significant amounts of calcium.When buying cassava make sure the greengrocer  chops it in half to make sure the cassava is white and it’s not spotty or stripey. They are widely  available from Asian, African and Portuguese/Brazilian corner shops and markets in the UK. It can also be bought frozen, ready to use, from some Portuguese shops making life much easier indeed!

This recipe is very easy: take the skin off , cut in quarters length ways, boil till tender in salted water, drain and deep fry.  Sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.

an alternative to fries


  1. April 20, 2011 / 2:16 pm

    One of my sisters lives in Portugal, so I've grown to really like most things bacalhau! Would love to try these bolinhos sometime. Where do you get your bacalhau from in the UK?


  2. April 20, 2011 / 7:57 pm

    First of all must say Ilove the name Cinnamon and Truffle – how lovely! Well, you can buy bacalhau at Portuguese deli, there are some in West and South London (Brixton, Stockwell in particular) you can find in Brixton market whole/steaks or in trays, already prepared (deboned and skinned). You can also find on line here is one link: Let me know how you get on. Take a picture and I will upload to this post in credit! Good luck

  3. April 20, 2011 / 9:17 pm

    Thank you! There was much deliberating before we came up with the name, but it has paid off! And thanks so much for the suggestions of where to get bacalhau. I've just remembered I'm going to Portugal next week, so if I forget to get it there, I'll definitely try the website. But Brixton market sounds like it's worth a trip to check it out for general interest! Will keep you posted and let you know how I get on.