Soak salted cod overnight and during the morning, changing water three times. Drain, remove skin and any bones and cut in small chunks.
The next step is poaching the cod. Simmer a small onion, thinly sliced, with a bay leaf and 4 peppercorns in 2 cups of water. After 5 minutes, add the cod and 2 cups of water. When it simmers, cover the pan and remove from heat, so the cod doesn't toughen. You can keep the cod in this liquid in the refrigerator until ready to use it.
To form the bolinhos: drain the fish and flake it well into a bowl. Add 2 cups of mashed potatoes; beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and add them to the fish and potatoes. Some cooks like to separate the eggs, adding first the yolks, then the beaten whites.
Add the parsley (and if you want, 1 small chopped onion), salt and freshly grated pepper to taste. Wait about 1/2 hour to form the balls; they should be about 1 1/2 inches. Use good, fresh oil for frying (set deep-fryer temperature at 375°). Dry in paper towels.
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