Bacalaito are pancake-like fritters made with salt cod. They are served all over Puerto Rico, from beaches and roadside stands to fiestas and street parties.
With a crisp outside and a dense chewy middle, these are seriously addictive and simply fab when served with a shake of hot sauce.
Note: you will need to begin this recipe up to 24 hours before you want to eat, as the fish needs time to soak.
Makes about 16 fritters, serving 4-6
500g salt cod
250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 red or green pepper, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A bunch of coriander, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
A little vegetable oil, for frying
Hot chilli sauce, to serve
Put the salt cod in a large lidded tub and cover completely with cold water.
Leave to soak in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours, or ideally 24 hours, with a change of water halfway through; this rehydrates the fish and allows some of the salt to soak out.
Drain and discard the water, and place the fish in a single layer in a deep frying pan. Cover with fresh cold water and set over a medium-high heat. Cover the pan with a lid or snugly fitting piece of kitchen foil and simmer for 15 minutes, by which time the fish should be tender and flake easily with a fork. If it's still a little tough, simmer for a few minutes longer.
Using a fish slice, slide the cooked fish on to a plate and leave it to cool a little. Once you can comfortably touch it, flake it into little pieces, carefully discarding all the bones and any skin. Set aside.
Stir the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl and pour in 350ml water, whisking continuously until you have a smooth batter. Stir through the pepper, garlic and coriander and season generously with black pepper. You won't need any extra salt. Finally, fold through the flakes of salt cod and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to a large frying pan and set over a high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, add 1 tablespoonful of mixture per fritter, spread out across the pan, flattening each one as you go. You may need to do this in batches.
Fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip over with a fish slice and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Drain over kitchen paper and repeat until you have used up all the mixture.
Serve the bacalaito piping hot with the chilli sauce drizzled over the top.
Recipe taken from MasterChef Street Food of the World (reviewed opposite). Photography by David Loftus