The origin of fish cakes is said to have been in England in the 19th. century, when leftover fish was mixed with cold leftover potato, dipped in batter, fried and served as snack. Traditionally these cakes were made of cod, but today salmon, crab meat or any white fish are also used to prepare them. My grandmother made fish cakes in the traditional Italian style with baccala (dried, salted cod) that was leftover from holiday meals.
Fish cake recipes can have a lot of variations depending upon the type of fish, cooking method, and the use of herbs and spices. Here are some common variations:
Gefilte Fish-fish patties consisting of white fish, matzoh or challah.
Fiskeboller- Fish buns made of forcemeat are very popular in Norway.
Bermuda Fish Cakes- A traditional dish of Bermuda especially made during Easter and eaten on rolls.
Satsumaage- Japanese fried fish cakes usually eaten as a snack. Kamaboko is yet another preparation of fish which makes use of white fish.
Thai Fish Cakes- These fish cakes are popular in the entire world and make use of Kaffir sauce in its preparation.
Yorkshire fish cakes- consist of fish along with two slices of potato dipped in batter and fried. These fish cakes are also known as scallop cakes.
For a salmon patty recipe go to an older post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/12/frugal-italian/
Most fish cake recipes call for frying in oil. I have been baking fish cakes for many years to keep them healthy. They taste just as good as fish cakes fried in oil but with much less fat than the original. I like to add mashed potatoes because it is a great binder to hold all the ingredients of the patties together and the flavor complements the leftover cooked fish. My children liked them better with this addition. If you don’t add butter and cream to the potatoes prior to adding them to the fish, the cakes are not high in calories.
When I make crab cakes, I do not add mashed potatoes because the potato would not allow the taste of the crab to come through. However, leftover cooked white fish doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor to start and the added ingredients in this recipe make for a very delicious patty. This is also a frugal way to cook, as most Italians like to do. Purchase enough fish for two meals, cook it all and reserve half. The leftover fish is then available for a new meal and you do not have to cook more fish before making this recipe. You can also do the same thing with the mashed potatoes – cook once and use the leftover potatoes in this recipe. A serving of these baked fish cakes (2 patties) is about 300 calories.
Italian Fish Cakes
Makes 8-12 fish cakes, depending on size
- 2 large baking or Yukon gold potatoes about 1 pound, peeled and diced
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup celery, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound cooked white fish (such as cod, halibut, flounder, etc.) or salmon, boned and flaked
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup Italian Panko ( Progresso) or bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush two baking sheets with olive oil.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Set aside 1 cup of mashed potatoes to add to the fish cakes. If there is any remainder, save it for another use.
In a large saucepan melt the butter and saute onion, garlic and celery in butter over medium high heat until tender. Turn heat to low and fold in flaked fish. Slowly mix in flour, cheese, Old Bay seasoning, dry mustard, salt, pepper, mashed potatoes and milk. Mix gently. Remove pan from heat. If you have time, chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour.
For perfect even cakes, try using an ice-cream scoop to form balls and shape with your hands.
With floured hands shape batter into cakes 1/2 inch by 3 inches. Coat in Panko crumbs and place on the prepared baking sheets. Spray the top of the cakes with olive oil cooking spray.
Bake the fish cakes for 10 minutes, flip the cakes and bake another 15 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with one of the sauces below.
Sauces To Serve With Fish Cakes
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
In blender, puree 1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers (jarred is fine) with 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and blend.
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 6 tablespoons drained capers
- 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 large garlic cloves, halved
Blend all ingredients in processor until coarse puree forms. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.
Lemon-Caper Yogurt Sauce
- 1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spicy Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large fresh red chile, minced
- 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and chile and cook over moderately low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderate heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and water and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Add herbs and season with salt. Serve warm.
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