Tonight is New Year's Eve and a house party with a few close friends is a great way to ring it in. I think any good party should have plenty of bite-sized foods to keep the guests happy. When I first started to think of my favorite party foods for this post, I originally thought of tapas. They're perfect for hungry guests, but rather than try to re-create a tapas menu for a New Year's Eve party (although that does sound fun) I figured I'd pick one delicious option that you may not be familiar with.
Bacalao, dried salted cod, is a Spanish staple, although it is eaten throughout European Mediterranean countries and parts of the Caribbean. It was everywhere in Spain when I was there. I think they even have stores that specialize in it. It is economical and it should be on your radar. You can even store it in your cabinet, and it is a lot sexier than canned tuna. Although Atlantic cod is is severely over-fished, there are other more sustainable sources for cod, so you should check that your bacalao came from one of these sources (use this chart as your guide). The fish must be soaked in water for 24-36 hours before using it to reconstitute it and get rid of the salt coating.
These fritters, are part potato and part cod. You cook the fish and the potato together first until the potato is soft enough to be mashed and then you flake the fish, taking care to remove any stray pin bones that may have been left. When combined with parsley and a bit of garlic and you have one tasty fried ball of goodness, well worthy of ringing in a new year with. They are traditionally served with aioli, which is a garlicky homemade mayonnaise sauce, if you weren't familiar with it. But really any spicy sauce would be delicious here. In a quick improvise last night I mixed an Asian chili sauce I had lying around with mayo and it got raves. Just make sure that if your eating garlic, so is the person you plan on kissing at midnight.
Feliz Año Nuevo and Happy New Year everyone!
Bacalao Fritters aka Buñuelos de Bacalao
Adapted from The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas. Recipe can be easily doubled for a large crowd. Don't forget to start soaking the bacalao in advance!
1/2 lb. skinned and boned dried salt cod
1 lb. medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 egg yolks
Oil for frying
Cover the cod with water and leave in the fridge to soak for 24-36 hours, changing the water a few times. Drain.
Place peeled potatoes and cod in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Then cover the pot and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Drain the potatoes and cod. Set the fish aside to be crumbled (best done with your hands) and take care to look for any small pin bones left. Take the potatoes and pass through a fine sieve, or alternatively pass them through a food mill. Ideally, you want them to have a light and fluffy texture. Mix the potatoes and the cod with the remaining ingredients. Set mixture aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour before frying. The mixture keeps for about half a day max in the fridge, if you want to prep ahead.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan with oil to fry the fritters in. Roll the mixture in your hands, like your making meatballs and then fry until golden brown. Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.