These fritters are usually made with salt cod (baccalà), but by adding a good amount of aioli and some of the poaching liquid from the cod to the little spheres, you get a creamy interior that plays well with the spicy tomato sauce served underneath.
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Cod Fritters with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 to 10 servings (makes 30 fritters)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
For the Aioli:
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Salt Cod Fritters:
¾ pound (2 medium potatoes) Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups whole milk
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 fresh bay leaves
5 whole black peppercorns
½ pound cod fillet
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Canola oil, for frying
For the Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
One 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
Kosher salt, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 cups packed parsley leaves
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Kosher salt, to taste
1. Make the aioli: Drape a kitchen towel over a small saucepan. In a medium glass bowl, place the egg yolk and set over the small saucepan so that the bowl stays in place. Using a large whisk, beat the egg yolk, water and salt until well combined. Whisking constantly, gradually drizzle in the olive oil, drop by drop, until the sauce begins to emulsify and has thickened. Continue adding the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until all the olive oil is incorporated.
2. In a large pot of salted water, bring the potatoes to a boil. Cook until just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
3. Place the potatoes on a clean surface and using a small saucepan, smash the potatoes flat. Remove and discard the skin.
4. Meanwhile, in a 6-quart saucepan, combine the milk, garlic, bay leaves and black peppercorns and season with salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add the cod and cook until just tender, 8 minutes. Remove the cod using a slotted spoon and transfer to a stand mixer. Add the crushed potatoes. Strain the fish's poaching liquid, reserving 2 tablespoons.
5. Add the aioli and reserved poaching liquid to the stand mixer with the cod and potatoes and season with salt. Whip until well combined.
6. Form level tablespoons of the cod mixture into balls and transfer to a parchment-lined sheet tray. Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the cod balls from the fridge. In three separate bowls, place the flour, eggs and panko. Working with one ball at a time, dredge in flour, allowing any excess to fall. Dip each ball in egg and coat evenly in panko bread crumbs. Place the balls back into the fridge for 30 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
9. When you're ready to fry the fritters, place a wire rack over a paper towel-lined sheet tray.
10. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°.
11. Working in batches, fry the cod fritters until golden brown and crisp, 2 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack and season immediately with salt.
12. In a small mixing bowl, combine the parsley, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and toss.
13. Serve the cod fritters with the tomato sauce and the dressed parsley leaves.