"Pastéis de bacalhau" in the South, "bolinhos de bacalhau" on the North, since the beginning of the 20th century that this delicacy has a mandatory presence in the portuguese cookbooks.
Made in Portugal and also abroad, it's origin is not certain, but there are works and names and at the top there is Maria de Lourdes Modesto, that point to the portugueses region of Minho as the birthplace for this delicacy.
Regardless of where it comes from, one thing we can be sure, everybody everywhere enjoys the Codfish Cake in all of it's different cooking options which makes every portuguese person relish on it accompanied by a sporut rice, bean rice or just as a stand alone snack.
It is believed that the original recipe, oficially registered , dates of 1904 and can be found in “Tratado de Cozinha e Copa”, by Carlos Bandeira Melo, an army portuguese oficial, with the pseudonym Carlos Bento da Maia, with the title “Bacalhau em bolos enfolados”.
The codfish cake only starts to be advertised when the potato is made common in Portugal.
Portugal's first news regarding potatos is dated in 1760, and only in 1798, Queen D. Maria I publishes an publica um incentive to plant potatoes in Azores, the portuguese island.
There is precisely the news of potato plantation in the mainland when the Academy of Sciences delivers the gold medal to D. Teresa de Sousa Maciel for her potato production.
Interestingly the first recipe for cod in the form of “cake” is in 1841 in the book “Art of the Cook and the Butler” by the Viscount of Vilarinho of S. Romão, who also published in the same year the book “Manual Prático da Cultura das Batatas”, but its recipe is more like our fried fish. Now, the Viscount is the son of D. Teresa de Sousa Maciel ...
Only in 1876 in the book “Arte de Cozinha” by João da Mata are showed two recipes identifying the codfish cake more similar to those we know today: “Pastelinhos fritos de bacalhau à Holandeza” and “Pastelinhos de bacalhau”.
The first ones are very similar to the current ones with the exception of grated cheese being added to it at that time.
In 1903, a compilation of recipes by J. M. Sousa Pereira emerges that in the book “A Cozinha Moderna” presents a recipe that is similar to the current ones but fried in pig butter…
The following year, Carlos Bento da Maia, in the book “Tratado de Cozinha e de Copa” is the one that comes to present a standardizing recipe and which has the title of “Bacalhau em bolos enfolados” , and possibly hence the name “codfish balls”.
This recipe uses milk to connect the cod with potatoes and as for eggs, beat the whites. The frying must be done in abundant olive oil “so that the cakes dip in it without touching the bottom ”.
From this date on, the “codfish balls” in the North or “codfish cakes” in the South, have never stopped being present in the cook books of Portuguese cuisine. Authors categorized as Maria de Lourdes Modesto or Maria Emília Cancella de Abreu attributed its origin to the region of Minho.
The work “The Gastronomic Culture in Portugal” by CFPSA (Vocational Training Center for the Food Sector) and also “A Cozinha do Minho” by Alfredo Saramago are categorical to consider this preciousness as from the region of Minho.
The truth is that any Portuguese recognizes a fried made of cod, potatoes and chopped parsley when they see one.
Did you know that... It is not a regular potato.
Not to fall apart in the time to fry, the ideal is to make the pastry with the potato Asterix, also called rosy. This potato is more dry, contains less liquid, making it ideal for a recipe of superior quality.
" Bibliography - Sources: Artigo Científico " nCultura ", Pastéis de Bacalhau,by Teresa Santos, 20 Abril 2019."