Cod fritters

Worthy of worship: A batch of fresh cod fritters spiked with lemon and garlic and potato. (Photo by Bill Hogan)

Salt cod is a Christmas specialty, somewhere. So at Christmastime I bought a brick. I stuck it in the back of the fridge, remembering that it's supposed to keep forever.

Sometime after the holiday, actually about a year or so after the Christmas in question, I pulled out the box and read up on salt cod.

Back when cod was plentiful and refrigeration sparse, the resourceful let salt, sun and wind preserve the fish for eternity, or nearly.

The fish planks — then and now — are packed into wooden boxes and shipped to places where people like salt cod. Which is to say, Spain.

It's wildly popular there. With good reason, considering how many Spanish specialties involve salt cod revived with olive oil, garlic and potatoes. One cookbook on my shelf includes a section titled "Salt Cod Worship."

Which lists a few caveats. It's important to secure the good stuff: the thick center cut that cooks up flaky and moist. I'm thinking my year-old box of dried tails ranked as the so-so stuff.

I rehydrated it over several days. I poached it and flaked it and rolled it into little salt-cod cakes spiked with lemon and garlic and potato. They were good, but nothing to worship.

Times change. Now refrigeration is plentiful and cod sparse. Salt cod, once a necessity, now counts as (and costs like) a luxury. The cook who can't land the good dried stuff is advised to substitute fresh.

So I fried up a batch of fresh cod fritters spiked with lemon and garlic and potato. If any had been left, they might have been worthy of worship.

Cod fritters

Prep: 30 minutes
Fry: 10 minutes
Servings: About 2 dozen

1 pound waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), unpeeled
1/2 pound fresh cod, bones removed
1 cup quickie aioli, recipe below
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten