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Baltimore brothers remember coddies

 

Full disclosure. Michael Levy, co-star of the coddie video, is my husband. I have been listening to him and his brother, Stevan, talk about coddies for several decades. It sounded too strange to be true, but I’ve found independent verification.

On their way home from elementary school in downtown Baltimore in the 1960s, they stopped at a drugstore for a coddie and a cherry Coke. Coddies were deep-fried balls of codfish and potatoes. They were served between two saltine crackers with a dab of yellow – always yellow – mustard.

Apparently, they were available everywhere: drugstores, bowling alleys, delis, bars and candy stores. They were not heated in a microwave. They were not refrigerated. These may be two of the reasons they are hard to find now.

My mother-in-law also had coddie stories. When she was growing up in Baltimore in the late 1920s and stopped at a candy store on her way home from elementary school, coddies cost 2 cents. When my husband and brother-in-law got them in the ’50s and ’60s, they were up to a nickel.

I thought coddies were a Baltimore-only thing but when repeating the story to friends, I was told that Gorton’s used to sell codfish cakes in a can and they were available up and down the East Coast. Gorton’s does not mention this on its website.

Apparently, coddies first were sold by Jewish immigrants from push carts on the streets of Baltimore in the early 1900s. A nice piece in the Baltimore City Paper several years ago tells the whole story.

Makes 16 to 20 coddies

Baltimore Coddies

Baltimore coddies are essentially potatoes and codfish. The ones sold in every store in Baltimore through the first half of the 20th century apparently were mostly potato. I use salt cod which needs to be soaked for 24 hours in advance. I've included parsley if you feel the need for a fresh herb, but it seems a little uptown for a coddie. My husband the coddie aficionado, ate these when they came out of the frying pan and loved them. He tried them again the next day at room temperature and said they tasted just like those of his childhood. Remember, you MUST have a dab of yellow mustard for the full experience.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound salt cod
  • 1 ¼ pounds potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Peanut oil (or other high-smoke-point oil), for frying
  • Saltines
  • Yellow mustard

Instructions

In a bowl of water to cover, soak salt cod 24 hours, changing water every 6 to 8 hours. In a saucepan, place fish and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil. Drain. Cover with water again and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and break up with a fork. Let cool.

Peel, dice and boil potatoes until cooked. Drain and mash with milk to desired consistency. Cool.

Saute onion and parsley (if using) in butter until wilted. Cool.

In a large bowl, mix together fish, eggs, potatoes, onions (and parsley, if using), pepper and salt, to taste.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil to just below smoking point.

Make cod mixture into golf-ball sized balls and flatten slightly. Place in hot oil and cook until browned. Turn and brown other side. This takes almost no time so watch closely. On paper towel-covered platter, let coddies drain until cooled.

Serve between two saltine crackers with a glob of yellow mustard.

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51 Responses to Baltimore brothers remember coddies

  1. Wayne Byram January 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Bonny,

    Thanks a million for the coddies. I can’t wait to dive into a plate of them for a snack.

    Wayne

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf January 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Are you from Baltimore Wayne? If so, what are your memories of coddies? I made these for my husband and he said they tasted like his childhood. Hope you have the same experience. Thanks for writing.

  2. Bryan Levy January 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Make them for your nephew.

  3. Frank January 6, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Coddies sound delicious. A kind of fried brandade balls… ?

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf January 6, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      In their most upscale iteration. The ones sold on Baltimore street corners were mostly potato! This recipe, however, is surprisingly good. Thanks for writing.

  4. Harold Heft January 9, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Hard to find now. I worked at Colonial Pharmacy at Reisterstown Rd. and Clark’s Lane during my high school days in the mid to late ’60s and we kept them on trays on the lunch counter with a couple of sleeves of saltines and little packages of French’s mustard. Kids on the way home from school and workers on break from Silber’s Bakery next door went through several dozen a day. I had a couple myself when I worked.

    Will let you know how the recipe works. Thanks for the sense memory!

    • Avatar of Michele Kayal
      Michele Kayal January 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      Harold, isn’t it great when just the mention of a food brings you back to an earlier time? Thanks so much for writing.

    • Lou Leikach March 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

      Harold,
      Colonial Village was (is) at Reisterstown and Falstaff. I lived on Falstaff. Clarks Lane was a little south – past Labyrinth. But you are correct about the Pharmacy and Silbers. Boy… that was a name from the past! I have to try to make those coddies now!

  5. Susan Cohen January 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Coddies sound yummy and very delicious.

    Maybe we can do a trade—coddies for an Alexander Technique lesson?

  6. boicourt January 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    You KNOW! I still search grocery store shelves near the cans of tuna and salmon HOPING I’ll find at last the satisfaction of the small can of potato and cod that my mother mixed with egg and sauteed in butter until crispy and brown for occasional Sunday breakfasts and which I lived on – a least once a week – while in graduate school because it was so comforting and delicious and cheap!

    • Avatar of Michele Kayal
      Michele Kayal January 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      How wonderful!! But don’t despair! I’ve never seen the cans of potato and cod you mention, but salt cod is easily found (I’ve seen it at Costco and BJs!) Bonny swears it’s easy to work with. Try it! We’d love to know how it turns out.

  7. Ira Greil January 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    I lived in Windsor Hills and remember walking to neighborhood grocery stores for coddies and penny candy. Then we’d forage the local trees for mulberries.

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf January 13, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Ira — what a nice childhood memory. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Louis Berney January 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Even though I was in Stevan’s class in junior high, I would go to a competing pharmacy, Zentz’s, for my coddies. But they were all the same — always with saltines, always with yellow mustard, and always a nickel.

  9. Cassie January 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Thanks for the recipe and the story. I wished we’d had a snack like that available! Was looking for something original to Baltimore to make as part of our Superbowl party. Hailing from the SF Bay Area, we’ll be making a pot of Cioppino to represent the Niners and now some Coddies for the Ravens. (P.S. I love the website, food is such a fun way to share memories and learn about other parts of the country and the world.)

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf January 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      Coddies are a perfect Super Bowl food They can be made in advance, involve yellow mustard and are fried. What could be better. I hope you enjoy them. I love cioppino. If you want to share your recipe and the story about where you got it we would love to run it.

  10. Herman Zell January 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Today, I started thinking about coddies and looked up the recipe. In my elementary school days my parents used to have a small grocery store on Lucille Avenue in Baltimore and twice a week we would get delivery of a tray of coddies which always sold out at 5 cents a piece. Naturally, I would get my share of the tray which had about 36 coddies, saltine crackers and mustard. When I started Pimlico Junior High School, and after school I would stop at the corner pharmacy near the school and sit at the soda counter and devour about 5 coddies a day and then walk home and eat a couple more at my parents store. After Cohen’s coddies and Liebermans coddies went out of business, I asked my mother to make some. She agreed and while they were not exactly the same, they were pretty good. She made them with Gefilte fish from a can and potatoes. To this day I crave coddies from time to time.

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf February 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      Herman — Give this recipe a try. My husband says they taste like the ones he got on his way home from school. Especially at room temperature.

    • Iris Silberman February 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      Lieberman’s were the best!! My favorite treat lunch from Zentz’s Pharmacy. Two coddies, a chocolate soda and a pack of tastykakes.

      • margie February 19, 2014 at 10:10 am #

        boy that sounds like a baltimore snack to me yummm

    • Lou Leikach March 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      Herman, I left a message for you, but may have left under Robert Woo’s post. My mistake. Sorry.

  11. robert woo February 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Yes, I also remember the canned ones we had in Boston. You opened the can at both ends, like Brown Bread, and pushed it out, about 1/2″ at a time and used the end of the can as a guide for slicing them up. Pan fried in butter and made into a sandwich with Wonder Bread and some tartar sauce. And yes, it does seem like it is a more solid version of Brandade, come to think of it. If it got really crusty, I loved to peel off the crust and eat that separately, sort of like taking apart an Oreo cookie.

  12. Lou Leikach March 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Herman, My Aunt and Uncle used to have a small grocery store on Lucille Ave. It was actually right off the street in an alley. The store was actually a basement in the house that they lived in upstairs. If I remember correctly, there was no direct entry to the store, you had to leave the house in the back by the alley and then enter the store as you faced Lucille. They move to Baltimore from Vineland NJ. Their names were Rifka and Chaim Lindenblatt. Does that ring any bells with you? And oh yes, I loved coddies too. They seem to be making somewhat of a comeback. I see them in lots of delis and little specialty stores now. Not as good as I remember, but close. I’m going to have to try the recipe Bonny put out there.

  13. George Wach July 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I came upon your website and couldn’t believe you had a recipe for “Baltimore Coddies”! I grew up in Canton (O’Donnell St.) during the 50′s and 60′s and remember them very well! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Once they were gone, a few guys I hung out with at Pol’s Cafe (Foster & Glover Street) tried to duplicate them; but they were never the same……

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf July 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      I’m so glad you found us! Give the coddie recipe a try. My husband says they taste like what he remembers, especially at room temperature the next day. Hard to duplicate a childhood taste memory, though.

  14. Lisa May August 20, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    I remember the coddies and would like to thank you for the recipe. I am originally from Canton and remember growing up with them and have been wanting them for a long time.

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf August 20, 2013 at 8:26 am #

      I’m glad you found the recipe and hope it measures up to your memory. Hard to do, I know.

  15. Marc Bass September 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I have been looking on the net off and on for a coddie recipe. This recipe uses a lot more cod than most of the others. It also has onion and parsley. I am 64 and ate coddie my entire kidhood! Don’t remember an onion flavor? I am willing to try this recipe. Sure would like a Lebman’s coddie from Weiner’s drug store counter at Rogers and Reisterstown!

    • Lou Leikach September 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

      Marc,
      You’re a couple years older than me but I also remember Lieberman’s coddies (that’s the name I remember). Like you, I can’t remember them distinctly enough to say I remember the onion, but I don’t doubt it. I lived off of Rogers between Reisterstown and Liberty. Elderon – right after the cemetery on Kennison and before Groveland. Used to walk to Weiner’s to get comic books. Hilltop was for Holtzman’s bakery, Eddies Supremarket and the Crest theater. Good times good memories. I’ve seen this coddie recipe (is it yours Bonny) and have been meaning to try it. Maybe I’ll honker down to it one of these upcoming cold weekends. Be well!

    • Linda Zolin Wortman September 26, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Marc here I am looking for recipes for coddies and found you here too. Well guess we both remember the same thing having grown up in the Hilltop area and loving those Leiberman coddies we enjoyed as kids at Weiner’s drugstore. I don’t know if those recipes above are the same. I saw that salt cod can be found at Costco’s. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

      • Lou Leikach September 26, 2013 at 9:13 am #

        Linda,
        Actually, you can find salt cod in packages in most supermarkets – at least I know Giant in the Baltimore area has it available. Check near the fresh seafood case. If you don’t see it, ask. I imagine it’s not a real popular item. I picked up a package but ended up not buying it. The prospect of all that boiling and waiting and soaking… But I think eventually I’ll want to try making my own coddies. A lot of local delis and gourmet or specialty stores are starting to add them to their stock. Not too bad in most cases, but I would love to make my own fresh. Leave word if you or Marc get around to making them.

        • Michael Levy September 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

          Just read Marc, Lou and Linda’s comments. I don’t know how much cod or perhaps cod flakes were in the originals, but I do know that when I tasted Bonny’s recipe once it was cold, it tasted exactly like a real coddie. It was the first coddie I had tasted in many years that brought back the taste sensation I remembered from my Baltimore youth. And the onion flavor was very subtle and totally authentic tasting. I knew a Marc Bass from Airy, Pimlico and City. Are you the same? All, give these a try. If you are like me, you will feel like you took a happy trip back in time.

  16. Liz Davis September 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Two things….Where can I get these now? I need them.

    This reminds me of the my favorite cookbook editing error. The recipe called for the salt cod to be soaked over night,changing the water every hour. Not even the most devoted coddie cook is usually going to stay up all night with the salt cod!!

  17. Doctor V(itale) October 3, 2013 at 1:30 am #

    When I was a kid during the Great Depression, there were always “coddies” on the counters of bars and the ubiquitous convenience stores along with colorful jars of pickled pigs feet and whole onions in a vinegar brine. I believe the “coddies” were two for a nickel with saltines and yellow mustard. They tasted, for all the world, like real cod fish cakes. The story, however, was that it was actually a deep fried potato cake treated with a cod paste that had been invented and supplied by a Baltimore pharmacist who made a fortune by providing a tasty and inexpensive treat during a time of desperate financial straits. I find it interesting that Gibby’s wonderful Seafood store in Cockeysville regularly displays “coddies” in their cold display box along with other more mundane dishes. I plan to try them one day. Hold the pigs feet, please.

  18. Avatar of Pete
    Pete October 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I remember my grandfather having a chicken store in Little Italy on Lombard st. Me and my dad would go down there on weekends, him to help and me to play with my pet chickens. Of course me being only somewhere between 5-8 I didn’t realize that they were sold and butchered and so I would get upset that they were gone. Grandpop would give me a quarter and I would go down to the corner deli (having to dodge the girl and her crazy goose on the leash on my way there)and get a couple coddies a coke and a tastycake to drown my sorrows. Later as I got older and learned more about the ways of life and started helping in the store it became more of a lunch time treat for the 3 of us. Its funny how things like that can become treasured childhood memories

  19. Avatar of Laura McCandlish
    Laura McCandlish October 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    This is great! Never heard of coddies during our time in Baltimore but we sure saw a lot of Lake Trout there.

    • Steve P January 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      My favorite uniquely Baltimore food offering, besides the still commonly available Lake Trout sandwich, is, without doubt, a fish cake called the “coddie”. While Crab cakes are at the very top of my all time Regional favorites along with crab stuffed Rock fish The Coddie is a thing unique to Baltimore itself and perhaps better than any other local offering I can think of best captures that uniqueness of Bal’more, hon.

      The Coddie is in some respects akin to a Knish, (maybe a fish Knish?) or as some anthropologist guy suggested the Caribbean fish cake also commonly made from cod or similar fish. He speculated, although I have my doubts, that the idea was brought to the region by former slaves. There is a similarity, but ours is generally not so highly spiced and the cake and method of serving (between two saltine crackers with a dollop of yellow mustard at room temperature) is unique to Baltimore itself. The ethnicity of what seems to be the oldest known maker who popularized it and the near rigidity of its circle of influence to his targeted market also suggests the similarity to the knish better indicates its origin. I have not found the Baltimore version or even a close cousin in any establishment outside the city of Baltimore and immediate environs even as an in-house prepared item. According to the Sun Paper article it did not seem to spread beyond the city’s closest suburbs. I have though found any number of folks scattered about in far flung places who originated in Baltimore or spent time here in the years of the original Cohen version who remember it fondly.

      From my own experience, although I grew up with many close friends who were Baltimore city transplants, in the Annapolis area, less than 25 miles distant from Baltimore, I had never discovered nor knew of its existence before I worked in Baltimore in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The encounter (literally, en counter) was at a local neighborhood store n east Baltimore where they sat on a tray with a clear plastic cover with a paper sign that read “Cohen’s Coddies 25c) Just because of curiosity and the cheap price I tried one, which was self served with the tongs resting on top the case, sandwiched between two saltines and yellow mustard that sat along side the tray in stack packet and plastic squirt bottle respectively. which led to several before my taste was temporarily sated. The best part was that they cost at that time the princely sum of 25 cents. I believe that the year was 1968 or perhaps 1970 at the latest. I also discovered over time that a number of local establishments had trays of these things sitting on their counters, from drug stores to neighborhood groceries and convenience stores to local pubs.
      I soon discovered that the small cakes made from cod fish flakes or salt cod were delivered to many local establishments by a small firm called Cohen’s Delicious Coddies. The Owner of which business was according to his descendants and local history the originator these creations, although it would be many years later and long after that business’s demise before I knew the history. In fact having discovered by then the penultimate (IMHO) version of this tasty treat a few years after the disappearance of the Cohen’s Coddies from the local haunts that had so long carried them as a side item on their counters. The explanation was that the company had gone out of business (according to the Baltimore Sun article that I discovered the history from, in 1973. The new favorite that I discovered sometime in the late 70’s came from a local establishment in the Hamden neighborhood of Baltimore called Sterling’s Crab house. I never pass through that area without a stop to buy a small bag of these delights. I understand that they can also be found in a few other widely scattered eateries produced by a Southwest Baltimore Church as a fund raiser or as an on premises made offering. Alas, the prices of some of the later hardly reflect the good old days of the Cohen’s offering. But Cod, like chitterlings, is not such an inexpensive thing at it was in the days that it was thought of as a poor man’s food. The major addition to these cakes was a spicy red pepper taste and a bit more texture due to being made from cod filets or salt cod (commonly sold in Mediterranean ethnic markets as Bacalla).

      You can read more of the history here: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2002-05-22/news/0205210286_1_cod-cakes-recipe-baltimore

      Both the Sun Papers article and yours contain recipes worth trying, but neither are exactly the way I prepare them. The second one is closer in style– although considerably less spicy– to a Caribbean Fish cake. Also after trying it, I think contains a much higher ratio of fish to potato than the original and IMHO unnecessarily so. First as a cost factor- Bacalla runs about 13 bucks a pound or higher. I think it likely that it’s adapted from a recipe for cod cakes calling for for fresh or frozen filets without adapting it to salt Cod—The salt tang to the latter being a necessity to authenticity–IMHO of course. In any case the humble Baltimore Coddie comfort food is more of a potato cake than a cod cake, perhaps although my updated version tries to strike a balance between the old and new without giving up the uniqueness of the original. I have found that a ratio of 6 ounces of salt cod to 2 cups of mashed potatoes is not only sufficient to texture and flavor but is also a better balance. I have made such cakes from fresh fish and canned fish as well with good results but unique flavors according to the fish used. Probably the closest to taste and texture is Hake. But again anything beyond equal parts of fresh fish to potato changes the entire concept.
      My own version which is taken in part from the Strerling Crab house version follows. It is my favorite to date and while honoring the tradition of the original adds a bit more accent and perhaps even a bit more modern interpretation of the city’s more sophisticated palate—not that I ain’t a Johnny U, Brooks Robinson fan to the core.

      My version

      6 oz. salt cod, thoroughly washed and soaked 8 to 10 hours in the fridge in a quart of cold water (changed after 2 hours or so to fresh)—alternatively 1 lb. of fresh or frozen cod or hake or similar firm fleshed white fish)
      2 large potatoes (about 1 1/2 pound) peeled and cubed as for making mashed potatoes
      1/2 medium onion course chopped (for poaching)
      1/4 cup chopped celery (for poaching)
      12 tsp. dried or a large sprig fresh thyme (for poaching)
      1 bay leaf for poaching
      1/4 tsp. or so of fresh round pepper (for poaching)

      For the Mixture

      sauté 21/2 TBS finely chopped onion with a dash of salt in a bit of oil and set aside while prepping the fish and potatoes.

      couple of twists of black pepper
      2 TBS chopped fresh parsley (or, if you insist, 1 TBS dry, but note that fresh parsley gives a very different taste to the cakes because of the effect of chloroform present in fresh)
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (or to taste)
      dash or two of old bay (optional)
      2 eggs lightly beaten
      6 to 8 crushed saltines

      for coating cakes before chilling and frying.
      1/2 cup or so unseasoned bread crumbs for coating the cakes

      for frying
      sufficient oil to create a 1/4 inch deep in a 12 inch fry pan I prefer to use light olive oil but Canola or peanut works.

      after soaking the fish and rewashing it, Cut into 3 in wide strips and place in a 2 quart saucepan with the cubed and pealed potatoes and all ingredients marked “for poaching” from the above list, and Cover cover with boiling water (about 3 cups) and poach for 20 minutes until potatoes fork just tender but not mushy. — ONLY if using unsalted FRESH OR FROZEN cod, reduce the cooking time for the fish to 12 minutes add 1 tsp. salt and cook potatoes separately or start them about 8 minutes before adding the fish.

      Remove fish and potatoes to a platter and allow to cool sufficiently to handle discard the other ingredients and water or reduce it to 1 cup and save it for fish stock in another recipe.

      Rice the potatoes into a in a 4 quart bowl. sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp. of salt from above
      Flake the fish with a couple of forks or, better yet, for the sake of texture, put them in a food processor and pulse with the add’l peppers and dash of old and pulse several times then remove lid and scrape down into the blades and add the milk to allow the mixture to evenly chop into a fibrous paste. Note if you are sensitive to spicy foods you can use ground red chili but I prefer cayenne here for the taste. You can also adjust the amount according to individual tastes this tends to be slightly more than marginally spicy as written.
      Add the fish mixture to the bowl with the potatoes add the the eggs,chopped parsley and sautéed onions. blend well with a fork and if you are a real cook with your carefully washed hands- squeezing it between your fingers like you are making meat balls, adding the crushed saltines to achieve proper consistency. Generally you want to add sufficient crumbs to make the mixture soft but firm enough that it doesn’t readily fall apart when formed into small cakes, but not so much that it becomes dry and crumbly.
      Let the mixture sit for several minutes to allow the moisture to even out and facilitate the next step.

      Place the bread crumbs on a small plate to allow for coating the cakes formed in this step. Mold the mixture into golf ball sized balls and flatten into cakes about 2 inches in diameter and an even 3/8 inch thickness Use your finger and thumb on one hand to firm and smooth the sides. As you make each cake, coat it in the dry bread crumbs lightly on each side and place on a baking sheet. When all are formed place them in the refrigerator for 2 hours or so (It can be until the next day if you want to prepare them ahead)
      Frying:
      Heat the oil in the pan until it shimmers and just barely starts to smoke (375 deg if you need to measure) Then carefully add the cakes and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Drain on paper. serve hot or at room temperature with saltine crackers and yellow or spicy brown (my personal favorite, although untraditional) the cakes should ideally be prepared by each guest as they are eaten to preserve the crispness of the cake and the crackers. You can save the left overs in the refrigerator and warm in a pan the next day or so when you wish to snack on them.

      • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
        Bonny Wolf January 3, 2014 at 8:55 am #

        Thank you for all this additional information! You are right — our recipe has too much fish. However, the aficionados who tried it felt it had the right flavor. Will definitely try your recipe AND head to Sterling’s to try theirs.

  20. y lacan November 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    CODDIE ALERT!!!
    Hello all, on assignment at reistertown rd and 695. Reading the take out menu from the deli less than 1/4 mile from me (where I had a really good matzo ball soup last night) and kept seeing coddies on the menu. I googled to find out what they were and found this article.

    THEY HAVE THEM!

    Don’t know if they are good or not, but they have them!

    • Avatar of Michele Kayal
      Michele Kayal November 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Yolande, that’s amazing! Are you still nearby? Any inclination to try them? We’d love to know how they’re making them out there — and whether they know of anyone else doing coddies. If you’re so inclined, please try them and report back. We’ll be sitting by the phone…

      • y lacan November 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

        I’m here for a couple of weeks…I am sure I can do the deed, but my only comparison will be the brandade…frenchie here. Lol

      • Steve P January 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

        They are a bit pricey compared to the original, but similar. The best IMHO offered at present are to be found at Sterlings Crabhouse in Hamden. Although these are spicier than the original.

  21. y lacan November 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Oops sorry, suburban house!

  22. Jodie November 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I ate coddies all the time growing up. My grandma and mom used to make them. Also you used to be able to get canned coddies and make them. I grew up in Pasadena but my family was from Baltimore. Since we were not close to any Deli ‘s we would go to Box and Save in Sun Valley and get them. I live in the South now and have been craving coddies. I found some cod in the supermarket but it is not salted. I sure hope they turn out ok. Now if only I could get a Snow Ball and some Blue Crabs, lol.

  23. Roz December 23, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Baltimore was a crabcake city, but we Jews couldn’t eat crab. I read that was the reason coddies were invented – a “crabcake” like substance with kosher fish instead of crab. Of course, as a child growing up Jewish in Baltimore, I had never tasted a crabcake, but LOVED coddies. You could buy them in several of the little candy stores around my elementary school, and they were a nickel – cheap and delicious.

    Zents Pharmacy, mentioned by other posters, was where I brought my bagged lunch, sat at the counter and ordered a coke to go with it. The school let us leave at lunch time, supposedly to go home for lunch, but home was a distance, and Zents was up the street. Many of us ate there, usually just ordering a drink.

  24. Steve P January 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    My favorite uniquely Baltimore food offering, besides the still commonly available Lake Trout sandwich, is, without doubt, a fish cake called the “coddie”. While Crab cakes are at the very top of my all time Regional favorites along with crab stuffed Rock fish The Coddie is a thing unique to Baltimore itself and perhaps better than any other local offering I can think of best captures that uniqueness of Bal’more, hon.

    The Coddie is in some respects akin to a Knish, (maybe a fish Knish?) or as some anthropologist guy suggested the Caribbean fish cake also commonly made from cod or similar fish. He speculated, although I have my doubts, that the idea was brought to the region by former slaves. There is a similarity, but ours is generally not so highly spiced and the cake and method of serving (between two saltine crackers with a dollop of yellow mustard at room temperature) is unique to Baltimore itself. The ethnicity of what seems to be the oldest known maker who popularized it and the near rigidity of its circle of influence to his targeted market also suggests the similarity to the knish better indicates its origin. I have not found the Baltimore version or even a close cousin in any establishment outside the city of Baltimore and immediate environs even as an in-house prepared item. According to the Sun Paper article it did not seem to spread beyond the city’s closest suburbs. I have though found any number of folks scattered about in far flung places who originated in Baltimore or spent time here in the years of the original Cohen version who remember it fondly.

    From my own experience, although I grew up with many close friends who were Baltimore city transplants, in the Annapolis area, less than 25 miles distant from Baltimore, I had never discovered nor knew of its existence before I worked in Baltimore in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The encounter (literally, en counter) was at a local neighborhood store n east Baltimore where they sat on a tray with a clear plastic cover with a paper sign that read “Cohen’s Coddies 25c) Just because of curiosity and the cheap price I tried one, which was self served with the tongs resting on top the case, sandwiched between two saltines and yellow mustard that sat along side the tray in stack packet and plastic squirt bottle respectively. which led to several before my taste was temporarily sated. The best part was that they cost at that time the princely sum of 25 cents. I believe that the year was 1968 or perhaps 1970 at the latest. I also discovered over time that a number of local establishments had trays of these things sitting on their counters, from drug stores to neighborhood groceries and convenience stores to local pubs.
    I soon discovered that the small cakes made from cod fish flakes or salt cod were delivered to many local establishments by a small firm called Cohen’s Delicious Coddies. The Owner of which business was according to his descendants and local history the originator these creations, although it would be many years later and long after that business’s demise before I knew the history. In fact having discovered by then the penultimate (IMHO) version of this tasty treat a few years after the disappearance of the Cohen’s Coddies from the local haunts that had so long carried them as a side item on their counters. The explanation was that the company had gone out of business (according to the Baltimore Sun article that I discovered the history from, in 1973. The new favorite that I discovered sometime in the late 70’s came from a local establishment in the Hamden neighborhood of Baltimore called Sterling’s Crab house. I never pass through that area without a stop to buy a small bag of these delights. I understand that they can also be found in a few other widely scattered eateries produced by a Southwest Baltimore Church as a fund raiser or as an on premises made offering. Alas, the prices of some of the later hardly reflect the good old days of the Cohen’s offering. But Cod, like chitterlings, is not such an inexpensive thing at it was in the days that it was thought of as a poor man’s food. The major addition to these cakes was a spicy red pepper taste and a bit more texture due to being made from cod filets or salt cod (commonly sold in Mediterranean ethnic markets as Bacalla).

    You can read more of the history here: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2002-05-22/news/0205210286_1_cod-cakes-recipe-baltimore

    Both the Sun Papers article and yours contain recipes worth trying, but neither are exactly the way I prepare them. The second one is closer in style– although considerably less spicy– to a Caribbean Fish cake. Also after trying it, I think contains a much higher ratio of fish to potato than the original and IMHO unnecessarily so. First as a cost factor- Bacalla runs about 13 bucks a pound or higher. I think it likely that it’s adapted from a recipe for cod cakes calling for for fresh or frozen filets without adapting it to salt Cod—The salt tang to the latter being a necessity to authenticity–IMHO of course. In any case the humble Baltimore Coddie comfort food is more of a potato cake than a cod cake, perhaps although my updated version tries to strike a balance between the old and new without giving up the uniqueness of the original. I have found that a ratio of 6 ounces of salt cod to 2 cups of mashed potatoes is not only sufficient to texture and flavor but is also a better balance. I have made such cakes from fresh fish and canned fish as well with good results but unique flavors according to the fish used. Probably the closest to taste and texture is Hake. But again anything beyond equal parts of fresh fish to potato changes the entire concept.
    My own version which is taken in part from the Strerling Crab house version follows. It is my favorite to date and while honoring the tradition of the original adds a bit more accent and perhaps even a bit more modern interpretation of the city’s more sophisticated palate—not that I ain’t a Johnny U, Brooks Robinson fan to the core.

    My version

    6 oz. salt cod, thoroughly washed and soaked 8 to 10 hours in the fridge in a quart of cold water (changed after 2 hours or so to fresh)—alternatively 1 lb. of fresh or frozen cod or hake or similar firm fleshed white fish)
    2 large potatoes (about 1 1/2 pound) peeled and cubed as for making mashed potatoes
    1/2 medium onion course chopped (for poaching)
    1/4 cup chopped celery (for poaching)
    12 tsp. dried or a large sprig fresh thyme (for poaching)
    1 bay leaf for poaching
    1/4 tsp. or so of fresh round pepper (for poaching)

    For the Mixture

    sauté 21/2 TBS finely chopped onion with a dash of salt in a bit of oil and set aside while prepping the fish and potatoes.

    couple of twists of black pepper
    2 TBS chopped fresh parsley (or, if you insist, 1 TBS dry, but note that fresh parsley gives a very different taste to the cakes because of the effect of chloroform present in fresh)
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (or to taste)
    dash or two of old bay (optional)
    2 eggs lightly beaten
    6 to 8 crushed saltines

    for coating cakes before chilling and frying.
    1/2 cup or so unseasoned bread crumbs for coating the cakes

    for frying
    sufficient oil to create a 1/4 inch deep in a 12 inch fry pan I prefer to use light olive oil but Canola or peanut works.

    after soaking the fish and rewashing it, Cut into 3 in wide strips and place in a 2 quart saucepan with the cubed and pealed potatoes and all ingredients marked “for poaching” from the above list, and Cover cover with boiling water (about 3 cups) and poach for 20 minutes until potatoes fork just tender but not mushy. — ONLY if using unsalted FRESH OR FROZEN cod, reduce the cooking time for the fish to 12 minutes add 1 tsp. salt and cook potatoes separately or start them about 8 minutes before adding the fish.

    Remove fish and potatoes to a platter and allow to cool sufficiently to handle discard the other ingredients and water or reduce it to 1 cup and save it for fish stock in another recipe.

    Rice the potatoes into a in a 4 quart bowl. sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp. of salt from above
    Flake the fish with a couple of forks or, better yet, for the sake of texture, put them in a food processor and pulse with the add’l peppers and dash of old and pulse several times then remove lid and scrape down into the blades and add the milk to allow the mixture to evenly chop into a fibrous paste. Note if you are sensitive to spicy foods you can use ground red chili but I prefer cayenne here for the taste. You can also adjust the amount according to individual tastes this tends to be slightly more than marginally spicy as written.
    Add the fish mixture to the bowl with the potatoes add the the eggs,chopped parsley and sautéed onions. blend well with a fork and if you are a real cook with your carefully washed hands- squeezing it between your fingers like you are making meat balls, adding the crushed saltines to achieve proper consistency. Generally you want to add sufficient crumbs to make the mixture soft but firm enough that it doesn’t readily fall apart when formed into small cakes, but not so much that it becomes dry and crumbly.
    Let the mixture sit for several minutes to allow the moisture to even out and facilitate the next step.

    Place the bread crumbs on a small plate to allow for coating the cakes formed in this step. Mold the mixture into golf ball sized balls and flatten into cakes about 2 inches in diameter and an even 3/8 inch thickness Use your finger and thumb on one hand to firm and smooth the sides. As you make each cake, coat it in the dry bread crumbs lightly on each side and place on a baking sheet. When all are formed place them in the refrigerator for 2 hours or so (It can be until the next day if you want to prepare them ahead)
    Frying:
    Heat the oil in the pan until it shimmers and just barely starts to smoke (375 deg if you need to measure) Then carefully add the cakes and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Drain on paper. serve hot or at room temperature with saltine crackers and yellow or spicy brown (my personal favorite, although untraditional) the cakes should ideally be prepared by each guest as they are eaten to preserve the crispness of the cake and the crackers. You can save the left overs in the refrigerator and warm in a pan the next day or so when you wish to snack on them.

  25. Steve Ehrenpreis January 9, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    I grew up on coddies as well! My dad would take me to this small drug store…I think it was just around the corner form Park Lane. Anyway, we would sit at the counter on the metal stools with padded cushion seats that turned freely. There on top of the counter were the coddies, kept under a glass dome on top of a round tray. We would help ourselves, keeping count to pay for later. My dad & I always had chocolate sodas with our coddies…made behind the counter by the “soda person”. I would put the yellow mustard on one side of the coddie, then take it and turn it over to dab the saltine cracker to get the other side. I probably ate 4 or 5 back then. I remember Cohen’s & Lieberman’s coddies. I liked Lieberman’s best since they had a little “kick” to them, being speckled with little dots (probably a pepper spice). Ah…those were the days!
    My wife has a secret recipe..nothing close to what you see on this website or anywhere else. I’m telling you that her coddies are KILLER and you can’t just eat one. Ask anyone who has had them! She makes them for our friends whenever we have or go to parties. They go fast! She also makes them for her co-workers or anyone else who wants them. If you are interested, you can reach out to me at ehrenpreis1@verizon.net. She is known as “The Coddie Girl”.
    Happy coddies!

  26. Lou Leikach January 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    So I’ve had the opportunity to try some coddies from Lenny’s Deli in Pikesville over the last couple of weeks. One day I got them and they were large, warm and delicious. Another day, they were not as warn, but still pretty darn good. I know isn’t necessarily a criteria for coddies, but they were warm and it was surpisingly good.
    About 5-6 weeks ago I tried some from Steve’s Deli in Owings Mills. Also decent and very tasty, but I give Lenny’s the edge between the two.
    Today, I tried a coddie from Suburban House – or S&H as it is known in the hood. Terrible! I expected better. For one thing it was noticeably smaller than the other two and tastewise – yuck. Like dried mashed potato with a coddie-like coating. Tasted like a mouthful of walpaper paste – well it was actually not bad – for wallpaper paste – but I was expecting CODDIE!
    Steve Ehrenpreis, one day I will order some from you and see how you stack up.

  27. Stacey January 26, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    My grandmother made these all the time! I can remember my mother and I sitting at her kitchen table picking/flaking the cod by hand…talk about sticky business. My grandma used salt cod. I think was the only fish I’d ever eat as a kid! I still remember grabbing a leftover coddie from the fridge in the morning, poking a hole in the side and filling it with mustard before dashing out the door to go to school. Yes, I even ate them cold! I can’t wait to make these for my brother and dad and rekindle old memories. Maybe my kids and hubby will love them too!

  28. Lou Leikach January 29, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    I bought a dozen (got the surpise “baker’s dozen”) from Steve E. He’s right. His wife makes a darn good coddie. In fact we ordered some mini coddies (Steve says they are half size) to take to a SuperBowl party. Not everyone will be a native Baltimorean, so I’m anxious to hear what their opinion is of these oh-so-uniquely-Baltimore specialty items.
    Will report back after the event.

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf January 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      Lou — please let us know. will be interesting to see if you have to grow up with them to love them. (although, I didn’t and I do.)

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