Let me tell you the story about the Bacalaíto… what’s a Bacalaíto?
Bacalao is the word in Spanish for Codfish – the salted dry codfish. They one that looks like an old dried-out shoe sole. I mean, the fresh codfish is also called bacalao, but you need to preface it by saying it’s fresh bacalao, because traditionally the codfish eaten here is the dried out kind. Enough with the cod lesson…
Well, a very traditional Puerto Rican fritter is made with the rehydrated and de-salted cod mixed in with a flour batter. If you go to any Puerto Rican street fair, there will be several stands selling these fritters… one of my favorites when attending the Fiestas de San Sebastian… So now that I am vegetarian, how do I satisfy my cravings on these delicious and greasy fritters?
Well, I learned that honestly, if you season the batter well enough, the fried flour mixture will taste exactly like a bacalaíto, but without adding any of the codfish. Newsflash to all traditional bacalaíto makers… it’s even simpler to make because you don’t have to de-salt and rehydrate anything that once was alive… it’s the Mock Bacalaíto. I’ve tried to look for a better name… but locals would not know what it is if I call it something else besides bacalaítos… and people can’t believe they taste so much like the real thing… the secret is in seasoning the batter well. Here’s how…
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour – this will work well with spelt flour too About equal parts of water 1 tbs sofrito ½ tbs of Kosher Salt ½ tbs of Pepper Canola oil to fry
- I’ll be honest, I have never measured the amounts of the seasoning… but the batter should taste well-seasoned. You need it to taste like something, not just like wet flour.
- In a large skillet, heat about 1 ½ inches of canola oil. Make sure the oil is very hot before frying the first batch. Try inserting the back end of a wooden spoon into the oil and the oil will be ready when you see bubbles around the wood.
- Using a large spoon or ladle, pour some of the batter into the oil, like making silver-dollar pancakes. Wait until the batter has set a bit on the first “bacalaito” before you pour on another ladle. If they fuse to each other, they’ll be difficult to turn.
- Fry on one side until the batter turns crisp and golden brown on one side. Flip and fry some more until evenly golden.
- Transfer the fritters onto a plate with paper towels to drain the excess oil. No need to season them again.
Enjoy them as a snack with your favorite natural soda or natural juice drink. Give these to anyone at a party and you’ll see them flying off the plate. There are restaurants here that serve these as appetizers even.
This is definitely not food for everyday… this is a fried snack to eat sparingly. But believe me, I make a batch of these before going to any street festival so that the smell of the real kind will not lure me in… trying to keep those temptations at bay…
And to all those Puerto Ricans out there… there’s no need to do without these Puerto Rican delicacies when you go vegetarian…