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Bacalaitos Fritos (codfish Fritters)

1/2 lb Dried salt cod
Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
1 1/2 c Unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 ts Baking powder
1/2 ts Cracked black pepper
1/4 ts Salt
2 Large egg whites
3/4 c Water
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
2 tb Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh cilantro leaves (opt.)
Ketchup (opt.)


Cut salt cod into 2-inch pieces. In 4-quart saucepan, heat cod and enough water to cover the pieces to boiling; boil salt cod 15 minutes. Drain and soak salt cod in fresh water 5 minutes. Drain and repeat soaking and draining 2 more times. Dry salt cod with paper towels. Finely shred salt cod by hand, being careful to remove any bones. Set shredded salt cod aside.


In deep-fat fryer or 3-quart saucepan, heat 2 inches oil until deep-fat thermometer registers 350'F. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cracked black pepper, and salt. In small bowl, beat egg whites until frothy-add beaten egg whites and water to flour mixture to create a batter. Add shredded salt cod, garlic, and chopped fresh cilantro leaves; stir until well combined.


In batches, drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into hot oil and fry 1O to 12 minutes, turning fritters over halfway through cooking time, to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels and serve warm on serving plate; garnish with cilantro and serve with ketchup, if desired.


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