Bolinho de Piracui (fish balls) are one of Brazil’s favourite bar foods and a popular dish to share with friends and family. Traditionally they are made from salt cod, however, because salt cod has to be soaked for hours, ordinary cod has been used here to save time. They can be made with sustainable white fish such as Coley or Pollock. These Bolinhos are baked in the oven which saves you having to deep fry them. Traditionally Bolinho de Piracui are served with lime wedges and mayonnaise, tartare or other dipping sauces. You can make these balls into any size you like – small mouth-size bites to pop in your mouth as a tasty appetiser or larger ones to serve for a main meal with a salad.
- 1 litre fish stock (made with a fish stock cube)
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
- 2 bay leaves
- 450g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 450g cod fillets, cut into large chunks
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- Small bunch coriander or parsley, finely chopped
- 1 small sweet red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2tsp hot pepper sauce
- 1/2tsp chilli flakes
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g dry breadcrumbs for coating
Pour the stock into a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic and bay leaves.
Add the potatoes, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender but not breaking up.
Lift out the potatoes using a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
Place the cod fillets in the liquid and gently poach for about 5 minutes until the fish is opaque and cooked through.
Whilst the fish is poaching, mash the potatoes.
Add the spring onions, coriander or parsley, sweet pepper, hot pepper sauce and chilli flakes and mix together well.
Lift the fish from the poaching liquid and break it up into smaller flakes, then stir it into the mashed potato mixture.
Add the egg and plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir everything together until well blended.
Cover the bowl with cling film then chill and firm up in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight if possible.
To make the fish balls: Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6. Have 2 greased baking sheets ready.
Put the breadcrumbs into a bowl.
Using a spoon lift out some of the fish mixture, then roll into 5cm balls.
Roll each ball in the breadcrumbs to coat completely.
Place the balls onto the baking trays and then spray the tops lightly with non-stick cooking spray – this will crisp them up during baking.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, turning them if necessary, until crisp and golden. Serve hot with dipping sauces.
Top tip for making Bolinho de Piracui
The fish balls can be made with salt codfish if you prefer – soak the fish in cold water for 48 hours, changing the water regularly, then follow the recipe as above.