Brazilians love their salgadinhos (appetizers), which are eaten as snacks all day long or as a prelude to a more substantial meal. The first on this page is one of my all-time favorites. Now, whether you can find salt cod where you live is a different story, but these days I'm sure you can buy it on the Internet. It should be available all over New England and I know it's available in Canada. In Columbus, Ohio, you can find it at the fish market downtown. Salt cod needs overnight soaking or longer, until it's soft.
Codfish balls are Portuguese in origin, but like pizza in the U.S., they were so heartily adopted that they became Brazilian food. They are included in every Brazilian cookbook I've ever read and are served at every party or reception in Brazil. My friends who have been to Lisbon tell me they're different over there...I need to fly to Portugal and check them out one of these days.
Bolinhos de Bacalhau (Salt Cod Fritters)
1 pound salt cod
2 cups of mashed potatoes
2 tbsps of finely chopped parsley
2 large eggs
oil for frying
Soak salt cod overnight and during the morning, changing water three times. Drain, remove skin and any bones and cut in small chunks. The next step is poaching the cod. In Boston, I learned a great trick from Julia Child, who used to call her fritters Aunt Priscilla's Codfish Balls (there's a Portuguese connection somewhere...) I always do it her way now. Simmer a small onion, thinly sliced, with a bay leaf and 4 peppercorns in 2 cups of water. After 5 minutes, add the cod and 2 cups of water. When it simmers, cover the pan and remove from heat, so the cod doesn't toughen. You can keep the cod in this liquid in the refrigerator until ready to use it.
To form the bolinhos: drain the fish and flake it well into a bowl. Add 2 cups of mashed potatoes; beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and add them to the fish and potatoes. Some cooks like to separate the eggs, adding first the yolks, then the beaten whites. Add the parsley (and if you want, 1 small chopped onion), salt and freshly grated pepper to taste. Wait about 1/2 hour to form the balls; they should be about 1 1/2 inches. Use good, fresh oil for frying (set deep-fryer temperature at 375°). Dry in paper towels. Serve with a good batida and some very cold beer!
Linguiça frita ou grelhada (Fried or grilled sausage)
I prefer the grilling method, because it means less fat! You'll need to find some really good sausage for this. Brazilian-style sausages are now available in supermarkets in Florida, so it's possible that you can find them wherever you live, too. The ones in this photo were served to us at a barbecue in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
2 pounds of sausage, cut in 2-inch bits
freshly grated pepper
1 cup uncooked farinha de mandioca
Grill the sausage chunks and when they're done, sprinkle with freshly grated pepper. Serve with toothpicks and let people dip their bits into a small bowl of farinha de mandioca. This is a great appetizer for Brazilian barbecue also. Serve with batidas and some very cold beer!
The recipe is on the longish side and so the superbly delicious empadinhas get their own page!