These fish cakes are lighter than many and taste distinctly of smoked fish and potato. They can be served with tartar sauce, aioli, or with just a wedge of lemon. I strongly recommend using smoked haddock from the Boston Smoked Fish Company if you can find it (locally available at the Boston Public Market and often at the twice weekly farmer’s market in Dewey Square, also can be ordered on-line). If not you can substitute any smoked white flaky fish that you like or smoked salmon or you can use half smoked salmon and half regularly cooked salmon. You can also substitute any cooked flaky white fish that is not smoked but, if you want the smoky taste, you would need to add 2 pieces of well cooked and crumbled bacon.
Makes 8-9 cakes, serving 3-4 people
3 large Russet potatoes (or 3-4 ups of leftover homemade mashed potatoes–don’t use those made in a store, they are always too salty for this recipe)
2 T. heavy cream or whole milk or melted butter (or in a pinch olive oil)
4 oz. of smoked haddock (or other smoked fish without skin or bones)
1/2 small to medium onion, finely diced
4 T. olive oil (divided into 1 T. and 3 T.)
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/4 c. dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. plain panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for dredging
- Peel and cut the potatoes into 1″ chunks and place into a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. Cook until the potatoes are very tender. Drain and allow to sit in the strainer until quite dry (the drier the potatoes the easier to make the fish cakes hold together).
- Mash the potatoes until quite smooth (chunks make the cakes more likely to all apart).
- Add the 2 T. of cream/milk/melted butter until stir together. [TO THIS STEP, THE RECIPE CAN BE DONE A DAY OR TWO AHEAD]
- In a small fry or saute pan, add 1 T. of olive oil and put over medium heat, stirring often until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the thyme and white wine and bring to a gentle boil. Boil until the wine is reduced to just 1 T. or so and remove from the heat an allow to cool to room temperature.
- To make the cakes, place 3/4 of the mashed potatoes into a large bowl (keep the remainder in reserve in case needed).
- Flake or chop the smoked fish into pieces the size of the end of your pinky and mix into the mashed potatoes.
- When the wine/onion mixture is cool, add to the mashed potato/fish mixture and stir until well combined.
- Place the panko on a large plate or pie pan. Add salt and pepper and mix well.
- Form the fish/potato mixture into patties that are about 2 1/2 inches across and 1 inch high. Gently place each patty on the panko and pat a bit. Sprinkle panko over the top and turn. Finally, gently roll the patty sides in the panko. (If the patty falls apart just reform and re-roll, the panko that will have been absorbed will give it a bit more structure.
- Place the fish cakes in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (and up to 4 hours) to firm up.
- Heat 2 T. (of the remaining 3) olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, gently add the patties but do not crowd. You can really only cook 3-4 at a time. Do not disturb the cakes until you see browning on the bottom edges. Gently flip the cakes and cook until deep golden on both sides. Cook in batches adding oil as needed to keep the cakes from sticking.