Ultimate fish cakes

Ultimate fish cakes

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(84 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins - 30 mins

More effort

Serves 4

Angela Nilsen went in search of perfection in her quest to pack flavour and texture into fish cakes

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze, pref unfried - thaw for 4 hours
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal359
  • fat12g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs36g
  • sugars3g
  • fibre2g
  • protein29g
  • salt0.7g
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    For the tartare-style sauce

    • 125ml mayonnaise
    • 1 rounded tbsp capers, roughly chopped (rinsed and drained if salted)



      Capers are the small flower buds of the Capparis shrub, which grows in the Mediterranean. As…

    • 1 rounded tsp creamed horseradish
      Horseradish root on a wooden chopping board


      hors rad-ish

      Horseradish root is larger than an ordinary radish, and has a hot, peppery flavour.


    • 1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 small shallot, very finely chopped



      Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

    • 1 tsp flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

    For the fish cakes

    • 450g skinned Icelandic cod or haddock fillet, from a sustainable source



      A popular mild-flavoured saltwater fish mainly found in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Cod…

    • 2 bay leaves
    • 150ml milk



      One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

    • 350g Maris Piper potatoes



      The world's favourite root vegetable, the potato comes in innumerable varieties. A member of…

    • ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest



      Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

    • 1 tbsp fresh white flatleaf parsley, chopped
    • 1 tbsp snipped chives
    • 1 egg



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

    • flour, for shaping



      Flour is a powdery ingredient usually made from grinding wheat, maize, rye, barley or rice. As…

    • 85g fresh white breadcrumbs, preferably a day or two old
    • 3-4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil, for shallow frying
      Sunflower oil

      Sunflower oil

      A variety of oils can be used for baking. Sunflower is the one we use most often at Good Food as…

    • lemon wedges and watercress, to serve



      With deep green leaves, and crisp, paler stems, watercress is related to mustard and is one of…


    1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Set aside. Lay the fish and bay leaves in a frying pan. Pour over the milk and 150ml/¼ pint water. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 4 mins. Take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 mins to gently finish cooking the fish.

    2. Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes into even-sized chunks. Put them in a saucepan and just cover with boiling water. Add a pince of salt, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or until tender, but not broken up.

    3. Lift the fish out of the milk with a slotted spoon and put on a plate to cool. Drain the potatoes in a colander and leave for a min or two. Tip them back into the hot pan on the lowest heat you can and let them dry out for 1 min, mashing them with a fork and stirring so they don't stick. You should have a light, dry fluffy mash. Take off the heat and beat in 1 rounded tbsp of the sauce, then the lemon zest, parsley and chives. Season well with salt and pepper. The potato should have a good flavour, so taste and adjust to suit.

    4. Drain off liquid from the fish, grind some pepper over it, then flake it into big chunks into the pan of potatoes. Using your hands, gently lift the fish and potatoes together so they just mix (see pic 1). You'll only need a couple of turns, or the fish will break up too much. Put to one side and cool.

    5. Beat the egg on a large plate and lightly flour a board. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Divide the fish cake mixture into four. On the floured board, and with floured hands, carefully shape into four cakes, about 2.5cm thick (pic 2). One by one, sit each cake in the egg, and brush over the top and sides so it is completely coated (pic 3). Sit the cakes on the crumbs, patting the crumbs on the sides and tops so they are lightly covered. Transfer to a plate, cover and chill for 30 mins (or up to a day ahead).

    6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. To test when ready, drop a piece of the dry breadcrumbs in - if it sizzles and quickly turns golden brown, it is ready to use. Fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for about 5 mins on each side or until crisp and golden. Serve with the rest of the sauce (squeeze in a little lemon zest to taste), lemon wedges for squeezing over and watercress.

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    Comments, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    7th Mar, 2018
    These were incredible. My mum used to make lovely salmon fish cakes but these beat those. I did the process in stages so it really wasn't a chore. My husband doesn't like salmon but when he tried these with that amazing sauce he was converted. Thank you. Making again tonight. Potatoes are mashed with all the bits added and sauce is made. Salmon to cook next. If I could give this 10 stars I would. I accept some didn't like it but if you are going to change the process then I would say it isn't the recipe that is not good. x
    15th Feb, 2018
    Everybody liked it! Even the fussy kids who said they would not eat it :)! The sauce in particular is worth doing even though I had a Tartar sauce tin in the fridge. It's bit messy, smelly and long. The instructions could be clearer with regards to the leftover milk in the pan which I understood not to use for the mash. Not enough oil recommended perhaps..
    13th Oct, 2017
    So tasty, restaurant level. Scrap that, in fact better than restaurant as I know what has gone in it. I used Panko breadcrumbs, fish pie mix from the supermarket and shop bought tartare sauce as I was short on time. Nevertheless, still delicious.
    8th Jun, 2017
    First time making fish cake very straight forward and delicous outcome!! The sauce is amazing!!!!
    13th Apr, 2017
    These were DELISH! (but a lot of work...). I would say it took me 3 hours to get these on the table. I live in Seattle WA and used russet potatoes passed through a ricer. After refrigerating the cakes for 30 minutes, I sauteed them in avocado oil. Using an infrared thermometer gun, I maintained the frying pan temperature between 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 5 minutes per side led to perfectly golden fish cakes that were crispy on the outside and creamy within.
    4th Aug, 2016
    I have tried various different fishcake recipes over the years and these were defiantly the best. As other people also commented, the sauce is what makes the dish and would be a nice change to serve with beef if your children or yourself think horseradish it is to strong. If you were going to make the fishcakes i would urge you to pair it to 'lemony mushroom rice salad'. It tastes lovely!!!
    23rd Jul, 2016
    A fairly simple and delicious recipe - definitely the best fishcakes I've made, especially with the homemade sauce. I overlooked the chilling time stated in the recipe but it didn't seem to make any difference. Just have to make sure the oil is super-hot before frying so they come out crisp. Highly recommend this recipe!
    23rd Jul, 2016
    A fairly simple and delicious recipe - definitely the best fishcakes I've made, especially with the homemade sauce. I overlooked the chilling time in the recipe but they came out fine. Just have to make sure that the oil is super-hot before frying to ensure they are crisp. Highly recommend this recipe!
    23rd Jul, 2016
    A fairly simple, delicious recipe - definitely the best fishcakes I've made, especially with the homemade sauce. Just have to make sure the oil is super-hot before frying so they come out really crisp. I would love to try this again with smoked fish. Highly recommend!
    4th May, 2016
    If you just use this recipe for the sauce, as I do now - give it a go! It is far superior to any tartare sauce you will buy or make elsewhere. The fish cakes are superb too, but it really is the sauce that makes them!


    6th Mar, 2018
    Could I oven cook these? I’ve just made them, they are chilling but don’t have the oil for deep frying.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    8th Mar, 2018
    Thanks for your question. These fish cakes are shallow fried so only need 3 - 4 tbsp oil for frying.
    20th Oct, 2015
    The ingredients really come together nicely in this dish, but have you considered using tilapia fish instead of cod or haddock? While it was specified to use fish from a "sustainable source," you could go one step farther. Cod and haddock are both on the Marine Conservation Society’s list of "fish to avoid" because they are widely over-fished and inefficiently managed. Tilapia, however, is on the society’s “fish to eat” list and does not require wild fish to be caught to feed it. The society suggests that tilapia is a more sustainable alternative to cod and that its plain flavor allows it to easily absorb other flavors from a variety of herbs and spices. I tried this recipe with tilapia and it was just as tasty! Perhaps you could alter the recipe or at least note the option of using tilapia instead of cod, in order to promote more sustainable choices.
    12th Nov, 2013
    How is this vegetarian?
    23rd Jul, 2016
    The chilling time in the recipe is not absolutely necessary - they come out fine without it.
    arnside037's picture
    8th Mar, 2016
    For a gluten free version, crunch up some GF cornflakes or bran flakes and use this instead of breadcrumbs. Or use ordinary cornflakes and bran flakes if breadcrumbs are not readily available.
    29th Jun, 2015
    Try using smoked fish, makes the actual fish cakes taste much better, using normal fish leaves you with a normal fish cake with lovely sauce. Smoked fish will make it stand out a bit more.