Showing posts with label fish cakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fish cakes. Show all posts

Friday, March 4, 2016

Fish Cakes

One more fish recipe. That’s all, I promise. 

I live in New England, where spring is late to arrive. I haven’t seen anything green yet, nor any swelling buds, even on my apple trees. Pity those poor early settlers, who had basically run out of everything by this time of year. Imagine salt cod, sprouting potatoes and mushy apples—and little else. 

I’m lucky to have discovered the series of diaries written by the woman of the Massachusetts house I write about in the Orchard Mysteries. Her name was Olive Barton Warner, and we’re distantly related. She kept a day to day journal about the household activities for herself and her daughters (her husband Eugene gets a mention now and then, but he’s usually outside dealing with the farm). She’s surprisingly literate, with a nice hand, although her punctuation is a little unpredictable. Here’s one typical entry:

“I fried a batch of raised doughnuts made a loaf of gingerbread and 6 pies (my first rhubarb made two). Eugene went up and got Ruth after dinner–we cut L's dress earlier. The girls picked our first greens this P.M.”
The date was April 29th, 1880. So you can see we’re not quite close to harvesting any fresh vegetables around here (I don’t do rhubarb!).

But there was still fish. Here’s a recipe adapted from one in the New York Times recently, for a New England staple, fish cakes.

New England Fish Cakes


6 peppercorns

1 bay leaf
1 lemon slice
1 pound flaky white-fish fillets
2 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
1 heaping Tblsp mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 heaping cup panko
1/2 bunch of parsley
Oil for cooking (I keep finding recipes that call for “neutral” oil like canola oil. I assume they mean anything that is not olive oil)

This is one pound of fish
First you poach your fish. Fill a shallow pan with high sides with an inch of water. Set it over high heat and add the peppercorns, bay leaf, and lemon. When it comes to the simmer, place the fish in the pan and cook at a low simmer until the flesh is just white all the way through (this took literally about two minutes—do not overcook!). Remove the fish pieces with a wide spatula and set aside to cool.

Empty the pan. Place it over medium heat and add the butter and let it melt, then add the onions and garlic and sauté until they soften, then set them aside in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, salt, pepper (and red pepper flakes, if you’re using them). Add to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Add the panko crumbs and stir. Add the parsley and stir again.

Flake the cooled fish into the mixture carefully (you don’t want to mush up the flakes!). Make the mixture into patties (this should make 4-6). Place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (which is the only way they won’t fall apart when you try to cook them).

Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil is shimmering, remove the fish cakes from the refrigerator (you don’t need to let them warm up) and carefully slide them into the cooking out, then sauté them until they are golden brown on each side (4-5 minutes per side). (Praying during the flipping operation is advised.)

Serve with a green vegetable (no doubt imported from Mexico or South America).

Believe it or not, the fish stays moist during its cooking.

There's a boat on the cover of A Turn for the Bad. Guess what: it's not used for fishing!

My favorite fish shop in Union Hall, on Glandore
Harbour in West Cork

You can find A Turn for the Bad on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Or in Skibbereen!


Friday, April 20, 2012


by Sheila Connolly

I know, you've heard my rant before:  here I live in spitting distance of the Atlantic Ocean and I can't get a decent piece of local fish to save my life (unless, as one fishmonger suggested, I drive an hour and stand on the docks waiting for the fishing fleet to arrive.  Yeah, that's going to happen.)

I harbored a flicker of hope when a new supermarket opened here in town, taking the space formerly occupied by an aging Stop & Shop.  I visited the new place (Trucchi's, part of a small regional chain) and loved the physical improvements—it's really quite elegant (you know, granite floors, indirect lighting, niches for custom popcorn and gelato).  So I had to check out the fish section.

It was nice, but not special.  The most noteworthy thing was that they were proud to carry hake with the skin on.  I couldn't get any of the salespeople to explain why that was a good thing, but I'll admit it was pretty.  Otherwise it was the same old, same old cod and haddock and salmon and so on.  What surprised me was that the fresh (i.e., never frozen) cod was exactly twice as expensive as the previously frozen cod.  That should tell you something, although I'm still working through what.

Okay, I give up.  I bought the cheaper cod.  If I'm honest, I really can’t tell the difference between cod and hake and haddock and pollock—they're all fairly sturdy white fish that don't have a lot of oomph on their own, but they serve as a blank canvas for whatever you want to do with them.  Cream and mushrooms?  Sure.  Sun-dried tomatoes and olives?  Why not?

But!  I have found a recipe that will accommodate any of the above fish (frozen or otherwise) and really doesn't care what kind it is.  And it tastes good, and it's a bit unusual, and it's quick.  (Admission:  I scavenged this from, which I love, but I had some issues with how they did things, so I added a few twists. Yanno, I used to hate it when my mother did that, and yet, here I am doing the same thing. Recipes are only for inspiration!)


3 garlic cloves
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
½ tsp. ground coriander
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt (aw, heck, use sea salt—this is fish!)
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 Tblsp mayonnaise
1½ lbs skinless white fish (not flounder, which is too delicate), cut in 2" cubes (more or less-doesn't need to be precise)
Panko or dry bread crumbs to coat patties
Oil for frying

With the motor running, drop the garlic into your food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add the onion and pulse until it is also finely chopped.  Add the coriander, cumin, salt, bread crumbs, egg and mayonnaise and pulse until combined.  Add the fish chunks and pulse just until coarsely chopped (don't over-process!).

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a Silpat.  Form the fish mixture into half-inch-thick patties, about 3" across.  Place on the lined sheet as you form them (they'll be sticky).

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet (or a flat grill, which gives you more maneuvering room, which helps because the patties are kind of fragile) over moderate heat.

When you are ready to cook the patties, dip them in panko or more dry breadcrumbs—this will give you a nice, crusty brown finish.  Place in the pan or on the griddle.  Cook four minutes, then turn (carefully!) and cook for another two minutes on the other side.  Serve while hot.

You can accompany these with more mayonnaise, flavored or plain.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fish Cakes!

We've been eating more fish at
our house, since you just can't argue with
the health benefits. Fish is low in fat,
high in protein and an excellent source
of omega 3 fatty acids. We've been
trying it in a variety of ways. Our latest
was an Alaskan cod cooked up into
fish cakes.

I have to say, it was delicious! Crunchy on the outside
moist on the inside with a nice flavor that didn't
overwhelm. And the really nice thing is that it's
very simple to make.


6 tblspns butter
2/3 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup organic flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 chopped parsley
1/4 tspn black pepper
2 cups flaked cooked fish (cod, tuna or flounder)
4 tblspns plain bread crumbs
1/2 tspn Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tspn salt

1 large egg
1 tblspn water
1/2 cup flour
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the green onion and cook
until tender. Stir in the flour (should form a paste). Slowly add the milk,
stirring until it is smooth and comes to a boil. Add the parsley and
black pepper. Stir in the fish, the breadcrumbs, the Worcestershire
sauce and the salt. Let it cool.

In a shallow frying pan, pour in the oil until it is 1/8 of an inch deep set on
med-high heat. Mix the large egg with the water in a small bowl. In
another bowl put 1/2 cup of flour. In another bowl put the 1 cup of
bread crumbs.

Now form the fish cake batter into patties (makes 6-8). Coat on both
sides with flour, then with the beaten egg, then with the bread crumbs.
Place in the shallow frying pan and cook until browned, flipping once.
About 2 minutes per side. Serve with lemon or lime wedges.



Jenn McKinlay
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aka Lucy Lawrence
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