Fish cake on a plate with watercress & lemon garnish

Ultimate fish cakes

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(112 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 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 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 together 125ml mayonnaise, 1 rounded tbsp roughly chopped capers, 1 rounded tsp creamed horseradish, 1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard, 1 small very finley chopped shallot and 1 tsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley. Set aside.

    2. Lay 450g skinned Icelandic cod or haddock fillet and 2 bay leaves in a frying pan. Pour over 150ml milk and 150ml water.

    3. 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.

    4. Meanwhile, peel and chop 350g Maris Piper potatoes into even-sized chunks. Put them in a saucepan and just cover with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or until tender, but not broken up.

    5. 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.

    6. Tip the potatoes 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.

    7. Take off the heat and beat in 1 rounded tbsp of the sauce, then ½ tsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley and 1 tbsp snipped chives.

    8. Season well with salt and pepper. The potato should have a good flavour, so taste and adjust to suit.

    9. Drain off liquid from the fish, grind some pepper over it, then flake it into big chunks into the pan of potatoes.

    10. Using your hands, gently lift the fish and potatoes together so they just mix. You'll only need a couple of turns, or the fish will break up too much. Put to one side and cool.

    11. Beat 1 egg on a large plate and lightly flour a board. Spread 85g fresh white breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Divide the fish cake mixture into four.

    12. On the floured board, and with floured hands, carefully shape into four cakes, about 2.5cm thick. One by one, sit each cake in the egg, and brush over the top and sides so it is completely coated.

    13. 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).

    14. Heat 3-4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower 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.

    15. 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 to taste), lemon wedges for squeezing over and watercress.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    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.
    23rd Nov, 2014
    Forgot to add... I used panko breadcrumbs instead of white since that's what I had on hand. Was excellent.
    23rd Nov, 2014
    Fabulous fish cakes! I used wild salmon and plain haddock. Had never done fish cakes with potatoes in them before and was impressed. Used the tartare sauce recipe from another GF recipe since I liked the ingredients more (included gherkins, added a nice hint of sweet) but I'm sure either is a good choice. A keeper for sure!
    27th Sep, 2014
    Still making this recipe so it is officially a keeper. One thing, I put all the tartar sauce ingredients in my magic bullet and whizzed it up. I also used less mayo and a bit more of the capers and parsley. It came out lovely, green, fluffy and super tasty. For anyone who is afraid this recipe is too much work, I have found it worth the trouble. And the fact that you can break up the tasks with no damage to the results means with a little planning, it doesn't have to be onerous.
    1st Aug, 2014
    It's lovely to read the different types of fish this recipe works with so well! I shockingly had all the ingredients except a lemon (and ran out for that!). I love the sauce because it's so different from American tartar sauce which is fairly bland. We are happy fish eaters on Fridays so this one is a great addition to my repertoire! Many thanks!
    4th Jul, 2014
    Quite fiddley & prep time was underestimated. Taste was average. Overall we were disappointed. Good quality Supermarket fish cakes are nicer to eat, involve far less hassle and are cheaper! We won't be attempting them again.
    13th Jun, 2014
    a straight forward recipe, but you will use a lot of dishes. The fishcakes and the sauce are superb though; well received by all. I will definitely make this recipe again.


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