Fishing season has come and gone but I have lots of cod stored to eat over the winter. Some frozen and some dried. As long as I can remember, once fishing season arrived, there was always cod drying on the wharves and stages so that people could preserve fish for the winter without having to freeze it. I remember flipping many a fish over to dry. Once completely dried it became dried salted cod. To eat, the salt cod would then be soaked overnight in a big pot of water and then used to make fishcakes, fish and brewis, or just boiled up in the morning for breakfast with a slice of homemade bread slathered in butter and molasses and a big cup of tea!
I had never dried cod before so this year, with the help of my dear ole dad, I put some cod in salt. Most Newfoundlanders keep the cod whole and just take out the sound bone but I didn’t have the tools for that or the skill! so I just did cod fillets but kept the skin on! It worked for me 🙂 Once left to salt for a week or so, the salt cod was washed and then the cod was hung on my clothesline to dry out. It would take about five good windy days to completely dry it and now I have it stored in my garage for the winter.
Here is a traditional Newfoundland recipe for fishcakes with just a couple little changes.
NOTE: If you don’t have dried salt fish available, you can sometimes get it at the grocery store. If not, you can make corned fish by buying fresh cod, laying it in a plastic or glass container and covering it completely in salt…the more salt the better. Let the fish sit for 2 hours, on your kitchen counter, then rinse and it’s ready to be boiled to use in your fishcakes. This method is super quick and you don’t have to soak the fish overnight.
Newfoundland Fishcakes (makes about 10 fishcakes)
- 2 cups dried salt cod, cooked, deboned and flaked
- 2 cups potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 1 large onion
- olive oil or pork fat, 1 or 2 slices, cubed, optional
- 1 tsp savory, optional
- 1 egg, beaten
- flour or seasoned panko crumbs for dredging fishcakes
To make the fishcakes, soak dried salted cod overnight in a large pot of water. I usually change the water before heading to bed. The next day, drain off the water, fill with fresh water and then boil for about 20 minutes. Remove fish and let cool enough to touch. Remove the bones and flake fish with your fingers.
If using pork fat (scrunchions), fry pork until nice and crunchy and all the fat has been rendered out. Remove scrunchions to a bowl (these are now your snack while you continue to make your fishcakes…YUM….they are not added to the fishcakes!) Saute onions in pork fat oil or olive oil until nice and caramelized. Cook on low for about 20 minutes and they will be perfect.
In a large bowl, add flaked cod, mashed potatoes, onions and savory. Add beaten egg and mix by hand until everything is well combined. I like to use my large ice cream scoop to portion out the fish mixture.
Take a scoop of the mixture, flatten it with your hands (I like a thinner fishcake but usually they are about the size of a hockey puck)
and dip in flour or panko crumbs. I like using the seasoned panko crumbs for extra texture and flavor. Most people will use flour but I really like using the panko.
Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat, add fishcakes and cook about 5 minutes on each side until nice and browned. You can see from the picture that there is just enough oil to brown them. The less oil the better as the fishcakes will soak up a lot of oil. You might need a add a bit more once you flip them to brown the other side.
Serve with my Tartar Sauce Recipe or a spicy aioli (recipe below). A great side dish would be a nice green salad for a lighter fare or stick to your ribs baked beans! Delicious!!! Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp shirachi sauce
Mix together and serve with fishcakes. Also amazing served as a dip with french fries, a condiment for burgers, a sandwich spread and so much more! I keep a squeeze bottle in the fridge and it goes on EVERYTHING! 🙂