Buñuelos de bacalao are a sort of fluffy, light fritter, flavored heavily with salt cod (bacalao). Popular versions exist all over Spain. There are usually made with a base of potatoes, but a common version also uses a flour based batter that ends up more like little donut holes. I much prefer the potato base, and have always made that version. In portugal, where these are also quite popular, they are called "bolinhos de bacalhau."
You can use any type of bacalao you like for this, but the scrappy pieces known as "migas" are my preference here. They will be shredded up, anyway, and are usually a lot cheaper than the nice loin or center-cut pieces.
Despite the recipe looking a little complicated, buñuelos are extremely easy to make. A pastry cutter is my favorite tool for mashing up the mix. You can use a potato masher, or even just squeeze it in your hands, though, if you want. Use an ice cream scoop (also sometimes called a "disher") to get your buñuelos a consistent size.
These are my preferred tools. The pastry cutter to mash, and then a scoop to get consistently sized buñuelos.
8 oz migas de bacalao, desalted by soaking in changes of water over several days
½ medium Onion, peeled and diced small
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
Olive oil for cooking onion
2½ lbs russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
2 whole eggs, beaten
Salt and fresh ground black pepper TT
A few sprigs of parsley, chopped (optional)
Flour for dredging
Oil for pan frying
1. Use your fingers to shred the bacalao into small pieces, and set aside until needed
2. Heat a small sauté pan on a medium flame. When hot, pour in enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan, then add the onion. Cook, stirring or tossing, until the onion is soft and cooked through, but not browned. About a minute before it’s finished cooking, season with salt, and add the garlic. Cook for the final minute, remove from heat and set aside.
3. Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil on a medium high flame. As soon as the water comes up to a boil, lower the heat to simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked through, but not falling apart. Test doneness with a small knife or toothpick. As soon as the potatoes are cooked through, drain them thoroughly, and pour them into a large bowl, and toss in the bacalao while the potatoes steam out.
4. When the potatoes have cooled down enough to not cook the egg, add the cooked onion, the eggs, and parsley if using. Season with salt and pepper and mash everything together thoroughly with a potato masher or pastry cutter. It doesn't need to be very smooth, but the chunks need to be small enough that they will hold together with only a little egg to bind it.
5. Arrange some flour in a plate or baking dish. Scoop out balls of your desired size, forming them into a hockey puck or disk shape, and placing them on the flour.
I sometimes make little, bite-sized small buñuelos, and sometimes ice cream scooped, larger ones. It just depends on how I plan to serve them.
6. Pour oil to about ¼” depth in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan. Heat the oil to a temperature of about 350F and carefully add the buñuelos without crowding the pan too much. Fry in batches until golden brown on both sides, turning over halfway through cooking (two to three minutes on each side). Remove from pan to drain for a few seconds on a paper towel, and serve hot.