Portuguese Codfish Balls

Wendy Ponte
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: About 22 balls (serves 4-5)
Ratings (13)

We don't have many of my Portuguese family recipes written down, but fortunately, my Aunt Rosemary had the foresight to cook with my grandfather before he passed away and do just that. At that time I was a college kid and recording recipes was something that simply would not have occurred to me.

Grandpa's Portuguese Codfish Balls 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 are light on the tongue. 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!

I really like to eat these plain, but if you prefer, you can have some kind of a sauce to dip these into. You could try tartar sauce or a bit of your favorite hot sauce dribbled on top.

The fish balls are great with a salad as a side dish. Although they are far better fresh, it is possible to freeze them and heat them up in the microwave or in the oven. I always make extra for that very reason!

What You'll Need

  • 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 (I prefer a mix of olive oil and canola, although my grandfather's recipe does call for corn oil)

How to Make It

  1. Steam the cod until it is flaky. I do this by putting pieces of it into a steamer basket in a pot. When it is cooked, put it in a large bowl and flake the meat. Put it in the fridge to chill.
  2. When it 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 it in the refrigerator until you are ready as this works better when the mixture is cold.
  1. With your hands, roll the mixture into approximately 2-inch balls. Put some flour onto a plate. Lightly roll each ball into the flour.
  2. Heat the oil (about 2") in a heavy pot. When it is hot (check with a little piece of the mixture and see if it sizzles) put a few of the balls in. You will need to do this in batches because overcrowding will make it hard to turn them.
  3. 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.
  4. Put the balls on paper towels to drain.