Ultimate fish cakes

Ultimate fish cakes

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(75 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

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    4th Aug, 2016
    it is very much worth it!
    30th Jan, 2016
    I use a similar recipe regularly, but use smoked haddock and make a Bearnaise sauce to go with the fishcakes and mix some of the tarragon with the cake filling.
    26th Jan, 2016
    Delicious, using fresh breadcrumbs. Nice and crispy, soft inside. Very tasty! A little work intensive, but worth it. Served with baked beans and a salad. Lemon slices on the side.
    5th Oct, 2015
    Done it for the first time, thought I couldn't go wrong with the ratings being so good... It took ages and it was horrid, the whole family thought so too!.. won't be making this again in a hurry.
    29th Jun, 2015
    This is a nice dish, it takes a bit of time when you first do it - some extra bits to do, so allow a good hour and a half including the 30 minute chilling time, that's how long it took me! But is a nice dish with the sauce. Without the sauce, honestly, they're just normal fish cakes, the home made tartar makes all the difference.
    12th Mar, 2015
    Waste of fish and money. Over complicated, takes too long, too much washing up.
    10th Mar, 2015
    Suspicious that my negative comment has mysteriously dissapeared!
    10th Mar, 2015
    I had high hopes for this recipe because of all the good reviews, but I was disappointed. It took much longer than stated to prepare and created so much washing up! Wouldn't have minded if the fish cakes were fantastic but they were average, if that. Not sure if I used too much oil but the breadcrumbs just soaked up the oil (despite a hot pan) and they were very greasy. Half of mine and my partners portions went in the bin, such a waste of good and expensive fish! Won't be making these again!
    3rd Feb, 2017
    Maybe the problem is with your cooking then not the recipe :)
    24th Dec, 2014
    I was looking for a fish cake to punish the husband for bad behavior; unfortunately this was quite excellent. I used tilapia and misunderstood the recipe-I added the egg to the mix and then dropped the somewhat sloppy cake onto the breadcrumbs and pushed them into the cake till it kept shape. I really liked the tartar sauce- it was a wonderful change from the common mayo/ pickle relish mix, far more layered and adult. I had all ingredients on hand save parsley and chives, I didn't think the recipe suffered in the least. I also slightly undercooked the potato and the final frying made them a perfect texture. I will be keeping this on file for when the husband deserves a reward, or even a casual company meal. Maybe I blew it for tonight but life works in funny ways. If anyone has a truly awful tuna noodle casserole please pass it along? I forgot to rate the recipe also. I give it 5 stars.


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