Every Baltimore native has a go-to crab cake recipe (mine: the traditional Old Bay recipe from the card that use to come with the spice). And nearly everyone has a restaurant favorite (I prefer homemade every time). But recently I tasted the other Baltimore classic, the Coddie!
Several months ago, at Rosenfeld's Deli in Ocean City, I saw Coddies on their menu for cheap. My husband had a distinct memory of having them as a kid, and although I remember them, I don't remember when or where I would have eaten them. We ordered them and they were awesome. Since then, I've been swept up in Baltimore foodie nostalgia as I've talked to people about their memories of the Baltimore staple... my cousin bought hers at the grocery store for a quarter, friends got them from corner stores, local delis, or just at family gatherings made by Aunt Clare. Everyone seems to have a story to tell. And yet, with all that coddie-love they had widely gone out of fashion, but thankfully they are making a bit of a comeback according to Baltimore Magazine.
This understated, but deeply satisfying little patty is largely upstaged by it's fancy and pricey cousin, the crabcake. But there is so much to appreciate about a coddie. It's a little potato based cake made with salted cod, simply seasoned then fried and served with mustard and saltines. They are perfect served hot right out of the pan but leftovers even are even tasty cold. They are great for lunch, dinner, a snack or even with breakfast. Quite honestly, I think the coddie's simplicity is its greatest trait.
When my friend Tim Karns dropped off a pound of dried salt cod from Geresbeck's Food Market so that I could make my own, I was excited, but also wondered what he exactly got me into. Below is what the salt cod looks like when you open it and what it looks like after you soak it overnight.
I found a classic recipe on American Food Roots and minimally adapted it.
Baltimore Coddies (adapted from American Food Roots) 1 pound salt cod 3 lbs potatoes 2 T milk 1 small onion, diced 1T dried parsley, optional 1 T butter 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp Old Bay ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 4 Saltine Crackers, crumbled
More Crackers and Yellow Mustard for serving
Soak the cod overnight or up to 24 hours, rinsing and added fresh water every 6-8 hours. Simmer cod in freshwater for 8-10 mins, Drain immediately let cool. Flake fish into small pieces. Peel and dice potatoes cooking in water until tender. Mash with 2T milk and set aside to cool. Saute onion in 1 Tb butter until transparent, about 5 mins adding in parsley, optional. let cool. Mix together all ingredients. At this point you can freeze some of the mix for later use. Form into 1.5 oz or golf ball size balls and flatten slightly, recipe yield is about 30 coddies. Fry in 1" very hot oil until browned, turn over and fry the other side until golden brown.
Serve with saltines and yellow mustard on the side.
I'm really glad I tried it at home. It was a bit involved and took some pre-planning, but the 1 pound of fish makes a ton of coddies and like I said they are really versatile and delicious. I would definitely make them again sometime. Looks like you can find salted cod at Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Geresbeck's Food Market or several online retailers.
Let me know if you have a coddie memory or if you've made them at home in the comments below.