Exotic and fragrant! What is nice about Creole cuisine is that one recipe can transport you to several countries around the world simultaneously!
Creole cuisine appeared around the seventeenth century and brings together recipes combining different tastes, colors, flavors and aromas.
Let’s uncover the Creole flavors, from the Antilles (French West Indies) to Reunion, from the coast of Venezuela to New-Orleans, or the Gulf of Mexico. In short, sharing Creole cuisine is sharing a comforting, original, authentic and family-oriented cuisine!
How can we talk about Creole cuisine and precisely from the French West Indies without talking about these little spicy and delicious fritters called accras de morue or salt cod fritters!
So today, let’s talk about accra or akara.
Do you know the Kingdom of Dahomey? The former Kingdom of Dahomey includes the geographical area now covering Benin, Togo, and Ghana. It was a patriarchal African kingdom established in the seventeenth century and located southeast of current Benin. From 1894, the name referred to a territory of the French colonial empire, that became Benin in 1975. This is where accras were born! The African origin of the word accra is therefore established: it means vegetable fritters in the Ewe language of Dahomey.
Accra is definitely the most ubiquitous dish of the Antilles along with boudin creole or blood sausage. They are called accras de morue or also marinades, especially in Martinique. This designation tends to disappear so it doesn’t get confused with traditional marinades as we know them.
Let’s go back to the seventeenth century to better understand.
Cod arrived in 1635 with the first settlers from Normandy and Brittany, two regions where people share a strong gastronomic culture of seafood. Cod was quickly adopted as a poor man’s dish as it is easy to store, prepare and especially extremely inexpensive.
It was imported mostly from Newfoundland and was the common staple granted by landowners to slaves and typically served in single dish with green bananas, rice or cassava.
These famous little fish fritters are a specialty that is really from the 4 corners of the earth. In Spain and South America, the famous buñuelos are made with whitefish. In Portugal, bolinhos de bacalhau are exactly like Barbadian salt fish cakes. In Brazil, acajarés are made with chickpea flour. In Asia, tempuras do not need to be introduced. Meanwhile, in Africa, the stuffing is often wrapped in dough like for pastels from Cape Verde. Of course, depending on the country, the spices will be different, just like the grain used for the dough.
There is a famous legend behind those salt cod fritters from the Antilles which perfectly reflects the mix of Creole culture.
It is said that the salt cod fritters have emerged last century, in the kitchen of a Norman lady living in Guadeloupe. She was in despair as she could not find (Norman) apples to prepare her donuts. A second lady, from Africa, offered to replace the apples with cod that she was in the process of crumbling. Fearing that the fritters would be too bland, a third lady, from India, proposed to add scallions and chili pepper. And so salt cod fritters were born!
- 1 lb salt cod
- 2½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 scallions , chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ bunch flat parsley , very finely chopped
- 1 West Indian pepper , chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Peanut oil (for frying)
- Cut the cod into chunks and put them in a colander.
- Immerse the colander into a large container filled with water and put it in the refrigerator.
- Leave it for 24 hours, changing the water as often as possible.
- Cut the cod and add to a saucepan with one garlic clove. Cover with water. Bring to a boil.
- In a bowl, crumble cod finely, and remove bones if any.
- Chop the 2 raw garlic cloves and the blanched garlic clove.
- Mix cod, garlic, chives, peppers and parsley.
- In a large bowl, pour the flour. Make a well and pour half of the milk in the center.
- Mix gently and then slowly pour the remaining milk until reaching a semi thick batter of the same density as heavy cream.
- If the batter seems too liquid, add a little flour. If it is too thick, thin with a little water.
- Incorporate the cod mixture to the batter.
- In a bowl, put baking soda and pour the lemon juice over it. It will emulsify. Incorporate into the batter immediately so it rises.
- Let the dough rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- In a skillet, heat a large oil bath.
- Pour batter with a spoon to form small fritters or form balls with well oiled hands.
- When the fritters are golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and let them drain 2 to 3 minutes on paper towels.
- Serve the warm salt cod fritters as an appetizer or next to a salad with a sweet and sour or spicy sauce.
- Salt cod fritters will keep 48 hours in the refrigerator in an airtight container.