Sunday Brunch: Brazilian Cod Fritters

WGN Weekend Morning News

Carlos Lucas Garza, executive chef at Carnivale at 702 West Fulton Market Street joins WGN Weekend Morning News to share his recipe for Bolinho de Bacalao, or Brazilian Cod Fritters.

Carnivale is a West Loop restaurant with colorful décor, festive vibe and food from South America, Spain and the Caribbean.

Bolinho de Bacalao with Malagueta Pepper Aioli

Prep Time: 1 hour, plus desalting and cooling

Cook Time: 30 minutes


For Malagueta Pepper Aioli:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups canola-olive blended oil
  • 4 malagueta peppers

For Fritters:

  • 1.25 lbs. of Bacalao (Salt cod, such as Cristobal salted cod fillets)
  • 1.25 lbs. yucca (peeled, cut in pieces)
  • 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup yucca flour
  • 1 tbsp. packed flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 7oz. can of coconut milk
  • 2 large, room-temperature eggs for frying
  • Citrus mayonnaise


  • Make the citrus mayo: remove zest of half of the orange and place it in a blender. Squeeze 2 tbsp. of orange juice and add to zest. Remove zest of half lemon, place in blend and add 1 tbsp. lemon juice and malagueta peppers. Add egg, vinegar, mustard and salt, blending on low until well mixed.
  • Gradually raise the speed to medium and add oil in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. As soon as mixture is thickened and smooth, turn off blender (over-blending can cause mayo to split)
  • Make the fritters: Place the bacalao in a deep dish and cover with cold water. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 36 hours, changing the water three times in the process. Drain well and cut a small piece to taste. It should taste like salted fish, but not excessively salty. If it does, cover with cold water and soak for another 6-12 hours, tasting after 6 hours to test for readiness. Drain well and cut into 1.5 inch chunks. Remove and discard any bones.
  • Place the yucca in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then boil until a cake-tester or thin-bladed knife slides through easily, about 15 minutes. Avoid overcooking them; if they are soft, they’ll become watery. Drain well.
  • While the yucca are boiling, place the bacalao in another saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a rolling boil, remove from the heat. Set a strainer over a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl and pour the bacalao into this. Reserve the drained bacalao and 2/3 cup of its cooking water. Discard the remaining cooking water.
  • Combine the oil and garlic in a large saucepan. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic is fragrant and turning golden, about 4 minutes. Immediately add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 1 minute. While stirring, pour in half coconut milk in a steady stream. Stir until smooth, then add the remaining coconut milk in the same manner. Stir in parsley and remove from heat.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, along with the drained bacalao and yucca. Beat on low speed until well mixed and slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, waiting for the first to be fully absorbed before adding the second and scraping the bowl occasionally. As soon as the eggs are fully incorporated, stop mixing. You want the mixture to include some chunks of yucca and cod. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the mixture and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. It will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Line a wire rack with paper towels. Fill a large saucepan with oil to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until it registers 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Scoop up one heaped tablespoon of the bacalao mixture. Use another spoon to press and scrape the mixture against the first spoon to form an oval shape. Press and scrape the mixture once more, this time carefully dropping it into the hot oil. Repeat with more of the bacalao mixture until the buñuelos form a single layer in the saucepan without crowding. Fry, turning gently, until puffed and evenly golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the croquettes to the paper towels to drain. Let the oil heat up again and repeat with the remaining bacalao mixture, working in batches as necessary.
  • To serve it, it will have a tomato salad, with pickled onions and cucumber with aioli.

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