Caribbean Saltfish Fritters Recipe
Growing up, my Granddad always made saltfish fritters on Good Friday so they remind me of the Easter holidays! So with Easter coming up soon, I thought it would be a good time to share a recipe for saltfish fritters. These saltfish fritters are often eaten for breakfast, but are also a delicious snack to have at any time of the day. Along with the recipe, I decided to do a little research into the history of saltfish in the Caribbean so I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the popular Caribbean ingredient!
WHAT IS SALTFISH?
In the Caribbean, saltfish is white meaty fish (usually cod) that has been preserved by drying and salting. When it is ready to be cooked, it is rehydrated by soaking in hot water overnight, and then boiling it a few times the following day. If you’re short on time, you can omit overnight soaking and just rinse and boil the salt cod a few times until you’re happy with the level of salt left in the fish. Through this process you want to remove most of the salt, only leaving a small amount for taste.
Saltfish is said to have been introduced to the Caribbean region in the 16th century. Ships from North America would bring salt cod in exchange for Caribbean rum, sugar and molasses.
In the Caribbean today, salt fish is a popular ingredient and you can find it featured in lots of different recipes. The most commonly known one being ackee and saltfish, the national dish of Jamaica. Across the Caribbean saltfish is often sautéed with herbs like thyme, onions, tomatoes and spicy pepper and is served with rice, fried dumplings or hard food (as it’s known in Jamaica) which is a term that refers to yam, green banana, plantain, sweet potato, pumpkin, cassava and others.
Saltfish is also often made into fritters where the flaked fish is mixed into a spicy batter and then deep fried. Caribbean fritters are also referred to as accras, and most Caribbean countries have their own version. Each country typically uses herbs, hot pepper and green onions, but may differ in the amount of flour or baking powder used in the recipe. The concept of accras is said to have been introduced to the region by enslaved Africans.
WHERE TO BUY SALTFISH?
In the UK you can find saltfish in most supermarkets and can be found in the global food aisle.
SALTFISH FRITTERS RECIPE
As mentioned above, there are many different ways to make Caribbean saltfish fritters. This is a really easy and simple Caribbean saltfish fritters recipe, but feel free to add other popular ingredients to your fritters including bell peppers, tomatoes and onions. I’ve included some links to other great saltfish fritters recipes below, so you can also have a look at those for more cooking inspiration.
This recipe makes around six saltfish fritters.
One pack of skinless, boneless saltfish (250g - 300g)
275g self-raisng flour
2 finely chopped spring onions
Handful of fresh thyme leaves
1 scotch bonnet chilli deseeded and finely chopped
Vegetable oil for frying
Step 1 - Scrape any excess salt off the saltfish and rinse in warm water.
Step 2 - Place the saltfish in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for around 10 minutes. Drain the water and repeat this step 1-2 times until you have your desired level of salt left in the fish.
Step 3 - Drain the saltfish and rinse again. Flake the fish into small pieces.
Step 3 - Put the self-raising flour in a large bowl, then add the spring onions, fresh thyme and scotch bonnet chilli. Then add in the flaked saltfish. Pour in about 200ml of cold water and stir together until the batter pours off your spoon easily. You don’t want the batter to be too runny, but if necessary add in up to 50ml more water.
Step 4 - Heat up around 3cm of oil in your frying pan. Add six spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil (add less if there’s not enough space in your pan and make the fritters in two batches). Cook for around 7 minutes, then turn them over and cook for another 7 minutes until lightly golden and crispy.
Step 5 - Rest the fritters on kitchen towels to drain off the excess oil then enjoy!
- When handling the scotch bonnet chilli I recommend wearing gloves as this pepper is very hot!
- If you’re not keen on spicy foods, only add half the scotch bonnet or omit it from the recipe all together. You could also replace the scotch bonnet chilli with a few drops of your favourite hot sauce.
Sources, further readings and other recipes:
- Saltfish in Caribbean Cuisine. Read more
- Accras (Caribbean Fritters). Read more
- Original Flava - Jamaican Saltfish Fritters. Watch the video
- Immaculate Bites - Saltfish Fritters. Watch the video
- Chef Ricardo - Jamaican Saltfish Fritters. Watch the video.