Portuguese Codfish Balls

Fried codfish balls

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  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 5 servings

Portuguese codfish balls are often a favorite Portuguese family recipe. They require a bit of preparation ahead of time, but the cooking itself is fast. What is most amazing about it is the fact that even though the codfish balls are deep-fried, they result in light tasty balls. That is most likely because there is no flour in the mix (only a light dusting of it goes on the outside of each ball). Everything is held together with mashed potatoes!

These codfish balls are delicious to eat plain. If you prefer, you can have some kind of a sauce to dip these into. You could try a tartar sauce or a bit of your favorite hot sauce dribbled on top.

The fish balls are hearty enough to serve as a main meal, along with some sides. They can also be a side dish or made into a lighter main meal if served alongside a salad. Although they are far better fresh, it is possible to cook them and then freeze them. You'll want to defrost them and then heat them up in the microwave or in the oven prior to serving. If you are going to make these codfish balls, consider making a second batch just to freeze.


  • 4 cups of mashed potatoes (potatoes only, no added milk or butter, chilled)
  • 2 lbs. of cod filet
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of minced onion
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • A dusting of flour to roll balls in
  • Oil for deep frying (A mix of olive oil and canola works well, although the traditional recipes call for corn oil)

Steps to Make It

  1. Steam the cod until it is cooked through and flaky. The easiest way is to put pieces of the cod of it into a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. When it is fully cooked, remove the cod from the steamer, put it in a large bowl, and flake the meat. Put the flaked cod in the refrigerator to chill.

  2. When the fish has cooled, add the potatoes, parsley, minced onions, and eggs to the bowl and mix thoroughly. If you are not going to roll the balls right away, put the mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready. The mixture forms better balls when it is cold.

  3. With your hands, roll the mixture into approximately 2-inch balls. Put some flour onto a plate. Lightly roll each ball into the flour.

  4. Heat the oil (about 2 inches high) in a heavy pot. When it is hot, put a few of the balls into the oil. (To check the oil temperature, drop a tiny bit of mixture into the pot. If it sizzles and fries, it's ready.) You will need to do this in batches because overcrowding will make it hard to turn the balls.

  5. Roll the balls around with a spoon to ensure that they brown on all sides. When they are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon.

  6. Put the balls on paper towels to drain and serve immediately.

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