These tasty little numbers are inspired by a recipe from a restaurant I love in London called Moro. We often have them on the menu at Berta, as there's usually a bit of house-salted fish laying around – this comes from our obsession with pickling, curing and salting. Dutch Creams are used in this recipe as they're a waxy potato that stands up to the saltiness of the fish. I like the extra lemony flavour of this dish – preserved for a bit of tang and some zest to liven things up a bit.
- 250 g salt cod (omit for vegetarian)
- 300 ml milk
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 small brown onion, thickly sliced
- 2 pieces lemon peel
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- 400 g Dutch Cream potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp preserved lemon, finely diced
- fine zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- white and black pepper
- oil for deep-frying
- lemon wedges to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 24 hours
Soak the salt cod in cold water and leave it in your fridge for about 24 hours. In this time, you’ll need to do a complete water change two or three times. I usually have a little taste of the fish before I use it, just to make sure it’s not too salty.
Place the fish in a pot with the milk, bay leaves, onions, lemon and peppercorns, and then add enough water so it’s well covered. Put it on a medium heat and gently bring it to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for a minute or so, before removing the pot from the stove. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, boil the potatoes in slightly salted water until they feel soft and mashable. Mash the potatoes into a large mixing bowl, cover the surface and set aside in a warm spot while you turn your hands to your fish. Pull the cod out of the cooking liquid, which is then discarded, and shred it into small flakes.
Add this to the potatoes along with the remaining ingredients, mix thoroughly and taste for seasoning.
Now to the shaping part – traditionally, these crocchetta are made into quenelles. This is a technique that gets easier with practice, but simply involves using two spoons to shape your mixture into an oval. I suggest searching the Internet for videos or pictures and practicing. If that seems too hard, simply roll the mix into lovely balls. They will taste just as delicious.
Fill a wide-based pan half full with oil and heat to 180°C. Fry the crocchetta in batches for about 4 minutes or until they become a lovely dark golden-brown colour. As you pull them out, place them on some paper towel and sit them in a warm spot until they are all done.
Serve immediately with an extra turn of black pepper over the top and lemon wedges on the side.
• You can buy salt cod at the fish markets or at a Spanish or specialised delicatessen.
• The crocchettas can be pre-made and then frozen, ready to be fried in oil at whim.
• Use a ricer or a mouli to mash your potatoes. However, if you don’t have either, a masher will suffice.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.
Pinch bowl (pepper) from West Elm. Dessert fork and plate (top, right) both from The Chef and The Cook. Entrée plate (bottom right) from Mud. Potatoes from Moonacres Farm.