Pataniscas and codfish cakes, Portugal

Pataniscas and codfish cakes (pastéis de bacalhau) stand as quintessential Portuguese snacks, embodying the country’s culinary heritage.

Bars and restaurants across Portugal readily offer codfish cakes, while pataniscas, although enjoyed nationwide, are particularly popular in Lisbon.

Pataniscas, a Portuguese snack made out of codfish
Pataniscas, a Portuguese snack made out of codfish

Cod cakes or Pataniscas?

Cod cakes typically resemble a geometric marvel, taking the form of a conical cylinder with two pointed ends and three flat sides.

Despite its shape defying conventional cylinder standards, it serves as an apt descriptor. 

Pataniscas, conversely, manifest as golden biscuits, fried to perfection and roughly the size of a palm.

Beyond their distinct shapes, the fundamental contrast between these snacks lies in their bases.

Cod cakes feature a hearty potato base, rendering them dense and rich, while pataniscas boast a wheat flour base, lending them a lighter texture.

For those curious to delve into the art of crafting these savory delights, detailed recipes for both codfish cakes and pataniscas are available in separate posts and along this text.

Portuguese codfish cakes
Portuguese codfish cakes

Snacks or meals?

Both cod cakes and pataniscas serve dual purposes, acting as both snacks and meals when accompanied by bean rice and salad.

Unveiling the origins of pataniscas and codfish cakes

Their origin, steeped in necessity, arises from the pragmatic need to utilize leftover cod to sustain large families amidst limited resources.

Consequently, the cod employed for these delicacies, termed “second-choice cod,” often deviates from the aesthetically pleasing cuts reserved for main dishes.

Essential steps: preparing cod before culinary usage

It’s crucial to note that Portuguese culinary tradition relies on dry, salted cod, requiring meticulous preparation.

Before use, the cod undergoes a soaking process lasting between 24 to 48 hours, contingent upon each piece’s thickness and the recipe’s requirements.

Once adequately hydrated, the cod is shredded, ready to impart its distinct flavor to these iconic snacks.

More about cod

For further insights into the significance of cod in Portuguese cuisine, I invite you to explore the post Cod or Codfish in Portugal.

Understanding the cultural and culinary intricacies surrounding these snacks gives one a deeper appreciation for Portugal’s gastronomic heritage.

You can read:

Codfish cakes, how to cook them

How to cook pataniscas as a Portuguese

Embark on my Traditional food tour and adventure through Lisbon’s rich gastronomic landscape with me.

Let’s savor the authentic flavors of traditional Portuguese cuisine, including pataniscas and other delightful dishes.

David Monteiro