The month of August has two of the most important dates in Jamaica’s history – August 1st, Emancipation Day, and August 6th, Independence Day. Coincidentally, it’s also around this time that Jamaica’s best athletes compete on the world stage every four years in the Summer Olympics. There’s a running joke that the secret to our athletes’ success is in the food they grew up eating, such as boiled green banana, yam, dasheen, boiled dumplings, and ackee and saltfish. Well, let me take this opportunity to add one more dish to that list – saltfish fritters. While saltfish fritters may not offer as much nutritional value as the other foods mentioned, they are undeniably just as tasty.
These simple creations are usually a meal to themselves – once you’ve tried them, you’ll understand why. Just be forewarned, they are so tasty that you can easily eat several in one sitting (which I have been guilty of doing on numerous occasions)! Although typically eaten for breakfast, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy them for lunch or dinner (and often they are). Lately, I’ve had such a craving for saltfish fritters that I find myself eating them at all times of the day.
Traditionally they are made with flour, but one day I was curious and decided to add cornmeal to my recipe. The results were the same – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, and I have been adding cornmeal to my saltfish fritters recipe ever since. Everyone will make their fritters slightly different, adding their combination of seasonings and/or self-rising agents. Some also add green/red peppers, tomatoes, and fresh chopped garlic. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to saltfish fritters.
If you’ve never tried these golden-brown creations before, you’re in for a real treat!
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Yield: 12 medium-large sized fritters
½ large onion (chopped)
1 large scotch bonnet pepper de-seeded & finely chopped (any color will do, but red adds a nice pop of color)
½ cup scallion (green onion) chopped
7 sprigs of fresh thyme (pick leaves from stems of thyme)
1/2 lb (1 cup) deboned saltfish (soaked overnight and cut into small pieces)
1 tbsp baking powder (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt (optional; depends on how much you washed and soaked the saltfish, you may have to add a little bit of salt to give the fritters more flavor)
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
½ tsp of Adobo all-purpose seasoning (without MSG)
1 ½ cup water
3 tbsp Walker’s Wood scotch bonnet pepper sauce (optional, but adds a little extra spice)
2 cups flour
½ cup cornmeal (optional)
½ cup olive oil, non-stick frying pan
- Place the shredded saltfish in medium sized bowl (refer to my previous blog post on ackee and saltfish for instructions on how to prepare the saltfish)
- Prep the seasoning and set aside
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the saltfish, seasoning, salt, Adobo, black pepper, Walker’s Wood scotch bonnet pepper sauce, and garlic powder so all ingredients are evenly distributed
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then add in the ingredients from step 3, above
- Slowly mix in the water to the large bowl until it forms a thick batter-like consistency (see video below)
- Preheat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and pour in the oil and spoon a small amount of the fritter mixture into the frying pan. Repeat, being careful not to overcrowd the pan
- Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook on each side until golden brown, carefully move the pan from side to side to distribute the oil evenly
- Once cooked, place each fritter on some paper towel to absorb any extra oil
- Repeat steps 6 – 8 with the rest of the batter
Be careful not to spoon too much of the batter into the frying pan. The fritters will increase in volume, even without the baking powder.
Don’t put too much batter onto each fritter – you want to make sure they aren’t too dense so that they crisp up well.
Is your batter too runny? Add a tablespoon more flour, mix in and check the consistency. If it’s too thick, thin it out with a splash of water.
Pepper seeds are super hot, so remove them before cooking!
Depending on the thickness it takes about 5 – 10 minutes to cook on each side on low-medium heat.
Oil – you can top it up if needed. You don’t want to add too much because the fritters will soak it up.