Pasteis de Bacalhau

When I was 18 I went on holiday to Portugal with my parents.  It was one of the best trips I took as a child and one I will never forget.  We flew to Lisbon, rented a car and drove around the country… in spring.  The sun was shining and the sky was so blue!  The light was incredible too and I fell in love with the country.  Portugal is so beautiful.  Many people just go to Lisbon, Oporto or Algarve and skip the rest, but let me tell you that while these cities are definitely worth a visit, the countryside would deserve much more attention.  I will never forget the little town of Evora with its little Roman temple and beautiful churches and squares.  Nor will I forget the surrounding countryside, the beautiful region of Alentejo filled with cork oaks and olive trees, Fatima, Batalha with its unfinished monastery, Tomar and its Templar Church and Castle… I could go on and on.  It is an amazing country with lots of history and kind and friendly people.  A place I long to go back to one day!  As a foodie (and I already was one back then!) I also particularly enjoyed the food.  Besides the best Pasteis de Nata ever, I fell in love with these Pasteis de Bacalhau (salted cod croquettes) and I have been looking for THE recipe ever since.  I am so glad to tell you that I finally found it!  These were perfect, just the way I used to have them (almost everyday) in Portugal!  Every single bite took me back there and they tasted delicious: crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Pasteis de Bacalhau

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 500 gms – 1.1 lbs. salted cod fillets
  • 500 gms – 1.1 lbs. potatoes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Start by soaking the salted cod for 24 hours (remember to always change the water frequently to get rid of the salt).
  2. The next day, clean the fish by removing the skin and bones (when present) and boil it in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes (or until cooked through). Drain it well and put the fillet on a clean tea towel. Dry it well and then rub it hard with the teatowel to shred it very thin.
  3. Boil the potatoes in salty water. When cooked, drain them well and rice them.
  4. Put the chopped onion, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Add the shredded cod and riced potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (be careful with the salt as the fish may still be salty – I suggest you taste it). Add the lightly beaten eggs and mix well.
  5. Shape the pasteis using 2 spoons as if you were making quenelles. The mixture will be quite soft, so don’t panic!
  6. Deep fry in warm oil until golden brown, then put the pasteis on a plate covered with paper towels to drain the excess oil.
  7. Serve warm with some lemon wedges (optional).

Pasteis de Bacalhau

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  1. says

    These look delightful. I haven’t been to Portugal but we took a road trip around Spain and I remember that same feeling of awe. It was so beautiful and I dreamed of living there, even though I was living not far away in Italy at the time. Lucky you found the recipe.

  2. says

    These look terrific. I learned about salt cod in Guatemala, where it’s called bacalao. They made it into a stew on Good Friday. These fritters, which I have heard of before but never tried, sound delicious. Thanks so much!

  3. says

    I only went to Lisbon but really loved it and would also love to drive around the country some day. In the meantime I will have to make these. I am catching up on my reading and that is why I wish you and your family a late Happy New Year!

  4. says

    At last I’ve found the recipe ! Thank you.

    I tried several times to make these but never knew about the addition of eggs. The flat leaf Parsely you show in the picture taste much better then Curley leaf if you can get it.

    Just off to buy my salted cod from the Intermarche in Lagos.

    This time tomorrow I’ll be enjoying them with a glass of Vhino Verde.

    Thank you Manu.

  5. Emma says

    These look great but I’m wondering, whilst I know it would be breaking with the tradition on the reciepe, can you use another type of fish? I’d like to make it for the kids but I don’t think they’ll eat the salted cod.

  6. lilly pereira says

    Hello :)
    I’m from Portugal and “pasteis de bacalhau” it’s very good :)
    Portuguese like cod fish, most eat every day (we have very recipes for cod fish).
    Isn’t only “pasteis de bacalhau” that are good, Portuguese Food is very good and tasty.
    We have :
    – “feijoada, cozido à portuguesa, alheira…” (meat food),
    – “bacalhau, pescada, truta, sardinhas…” (fish food)
    – “toucinho do céu, travesseiros, doce da avó…” (desserts)
    – etc
    Come visit Portugal, you will like :)

    PS: I like very much this photo because isn’t only for “pasteis de bacalhau” but also for mateus wine (it’s a good wine) and plate with your name (it’s typically portuguese craft)

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