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My favorite codfish cakes are served as an app. or a bar snack. I have never seen canned codfish and think I might avoid it. But if you feel like giving salt cod a try, these are really good. They get their characteristic subtle, fragrant flavor from oil flavored with annato (achiote) seeds. It's an old Jamaican recipe called Stamp 'n' Go and it was handed down by my mother. But she wasn't Jamaican, she was Irish.


Stamp & Go (Jamaican Codfish Cakes) makes about 2 dozen


½ lb salt cod

2 T annatto oil *

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

¾ cup milk

1 Tbs melted butter

1 Tbs minced fresh, hot chilies


Start a day ahead: place cod in glass, enamel or stainless pan, cover with cold water and soak at least 12 hours, changing water 3 or 4 times. Drain. Rinse under cold running water, place in saucepan, add fresh water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over high heat. Taste water, if too salty, drain & start fresh, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer 20 minutes or until flaky. Drain thoroughly. When cool enough to handle, with small knife remove any skin, bones. Separate into coarse flakes and set aside.


In a heavy 8-10 inch skillet, heat annatto oil over medium heat until a light haze forms. Add onions, stirring, cook 5-8 min. or until softened, not brown. Remove from heat. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a deep bowl. Make a well, pour egg, milk & butter into it. Mix only enough to blend; add onions & their oil, cod & chilies, stir until well mixed and form a fairly smooth batter.


Pour veg. oil to ½-inch depth in 10-12” skillet, heat until hot, not smoking. Drop batter 1 Tbs or so at a time into hot oil. Do not crowd. Fry 3-4 minutes turning til golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature.


*Annato oil: heat ½ cup oil and 1-1/4 Tbs annatto (or achiote) seeds just until the come to a steady bubble. Remove from heat and let stand 1-3 minutes. Strain the seeds and keep the oil. It is critical that you don’t leave the pan or burn the seeds. If you do, dump them and start over.

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