This is a recipe that dates back at least 100 years – no kidding. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. during the ‘40s and ‘50s, my mom would rustle up a bunch of these cakes using codfish each Friday. The fish selection was easy because back then codfish sold for 10 cents a pound! Over the years, I modified the recipe in two major ways. I use almost any fish to make them, and I bake not fry them. I’ve been told many times, even by those who don’t generally eat fish, these cakes are the best they have ever eaten.
INGREDIENTS: (Makes approximately 8 cakes)
- 2 lbs fish fillets (cod, striped bass, sea bass, fluke, bluefish)
- Six medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped white or sweet onion
- Two 1/4 pound sticks salted butter
- One extra-large or jumbo egg
- Olive oil
- One cup chicken stock
- Italian bread crumbs
- Ground paprika
- Ground parsley
- One Tbsp low sodium soy sauce; One Tsp thyme; One Tsp cayenne pepper; One Tsp “Old Bay” seasoning; One Tsp “Tony Chachere’s Lite” (no MSG) seasoning; One Tsp Italian seasoning; One Tsp lemon pepper; One Tsp coarse ground pepper; One Tsp sea salt; 2 Tbs of red wine (optional)
In a 7- to 10-quart pot, fill half with water and the cup of chicken stock. Bring to boil. Add potatoes. Wait 5-7 minutes until potatoes are soft, and then add fresh filets. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes, then turn off burner. In a small frying pan, cover bottom with olive oil. On medium heat, add onions and garlic. Allow to cook for 5 minutes or until onion and garlic are a light golden brown, then remove from heat. Drain all the liquid from fish/potato pot into a colander. Place the ingredients back into the pot once drained. Mash mixture to allow mixture to be slightly lumpy.
Add the onion and garlic mixture, and then stir thoroughly. Add the spices (thyme, lemon pepper, Old Bay, Tony Chachere, coarse ground pepper, sea salt). Mix thoroughly to blend the ingredients. Add soy sauce and egg. Mix very thoroughly. Add 3/4 stick of butter, allow butter to melt, and then mix thoroughly. Allow mixture to stand for 20 to 30 minutes until cool. On a pan, scatter Italian breadcrumbs. For remaining sticks of butter, cut into thin slices and set aside.
From mixture, form cakes 3 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Dredge cake into Italian bread crumbs until fully covered. Set aside on a sheet of parchment paper. Continue forming fish cakes until mixture is gone. On each fish cake, add a slice of butter, and then sprinkle with paprika and parsley.
NOTE: The cakes can be frozen, generally four to a package. Wrap cakes in parchment paper, and then cover with aluminum foil and place in a sealed plastic bag. Don’t forget to identify the contents and date the bags.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cakes in a lined pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until brown. For added crispness, turn on broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve with tartar sauce and sides of linguine with marinara sauce, salad, and a loaf of toasted garlic French or Italian bread.