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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    18th Jan, 2014
    These are great! Me and husband ate two each as a bigger portion and were stuffed! If serving with side salads and dessert, one fish cake each is plenty if you have a moderate appetite. I made these using gluten free flour and made no difference at all.
    17th Jan, 2014
    Excellent recipe - enjoyed by all. I made these last night in roughly the right proportions, using chopped up smoked salmon and cooked king prawns (leftover from Christmas day starters and frozen on the day) and a small piece of haddock found lurking at the bottom of the freezer. Delicious! They'd be great without the sauce, but with it they're outstanding.
    15th Nov, 2013
    Wonderful! I used fresh herring (its what I had on hand) - the cakes were moist, held their shape, and full of flavor. Also added 2 Tbsp of bread & butter (sweet) pickles to the tartare sauce. Husband said they were possibly the best fish cakes he's ever had. This recipe is a keeper!
    18th Oct, 2013
    This recipe is incorrectly tagged as vegetarian.
    27th Sep, 2013
    Don't really like fish but this dish is amazing, husband thought this was restaurant quality
    1st Sep, 2013
    Delicious! A very impressive recipe. I used a mix of cod, smoked haddock and salmon which worked really well - so well my (not normally keen on fish) teenage son devoured them!!
    25th Aug, 2013
    Made these last night, they were lovely, made with half smoked haddock, half cod. Did not put any egg, breadcrumbs on just cooked in shallow oil, outside all lovely and crispy. Will definitely be making more!
    28th Jul, 2013
    This is a great recipe. I have a wheat free diet so coated the fish cakes in polenta instead of breadcrumbs and it worked perfectly! Will be making again soon
    30th Jun, 2013
    I made these fish cakes using basa fillets and smoke salmon. I omitted the tartare sauce because I didn't have all of the ingredients but used some mayo to bind together. I served them as a starter with soured cream mixed with some chopped parsley, chives and lemon juice. They did take a lot longer than 30 mins but it was worth it it as they were yummy and would definitely make them again!!
    18th Feb, 2013
    These fish cakes were delicious! And also HUGE! I made some slight adjustments to the recipe. I used a mixed fish pack which contained salmon, haddock and smoked haddock. I hadn't read the recipe properly and decided to make a different sauce rather than the tartare, but as I was making the fish cakes realised I needed some tartare sauce to actually put in them! Consequently I wasn't prepared and didn't have any capers and so did not add them to the tartare sauce and it still tasted lovely. I served the fish cakes with a prawn cream sauce that I made myself using butter, cream, a little of the leftover fishy poaching milk and some prawns, really really nice. I doubled the recipe as I was cooking for 6 and had two leftover which I put in the freezer for another day. Will absolutely be making them again, and again!


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