Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fresh Cod and Potato Cakes

It's unusual to find a fish with historical significance, but the humble cod was once considered a natural resource of such importance importance that nations went to war over it. As a matter of fact, the last of the Cod Wars, a skirmish between Britain and Iceland, ended in 1976. Confrontation such as this have occurred for at least a thousand years. Once early seafarers learned that salted, dried cod was a long lasting source of good protein, it became a commodity of historical and economic importance. The market for cod began with the Vikings and spread from Norway to Southern Europe, where it survived even during the years of the Black Death. We know with some certainty that cod is what brought early explorers to the shores of North America. The east coast of our country was developed, at least in part, because of the vast cod stocks off its coast. More information about cod can be found here. Unfortunately, overfishing of Atlantic cod has placed it on the endangered species list. While it is still available, many prefer to use other types of fish. Pacific cod or pollack are acceptable alternatives.

Fish cakes are no longer an important part of the American diet, but those of a certain age are quite familiar with how they were made and eaten. While leftover fish could be used, salt cod was usually the fish of choice. It was a matter of practicality. Fresh fish was not widely available in the mid-reaches of the country, so dried or canned versions were usually used. While pedestrian, they were fine and a wonderfully inexpensive way to feed a family. As tastes and fortunes changed fish cakes, except for the crab variety, fell by the wayside. That was unfortunate because a well-made fish cake has within its fabric the barest whiff of the sea and is one of those peasant dishes that have gourmet appeal. I wanted to share with you the best of my recipes for cod cakes. They are prepared with fresh cod and served with a tarragon mayonnaise that will have your socks, as well as mine. going up and down. These are not hard to do but they take some time to make. They should be served right from the pan and eaten while hot. They do not keep well, so make no more than you will actually consume in one setting. I do hope you'll try these. They are delicious. Here's the recipe.

An addendum from a reader that I thought you would find interesting...."I come from the east coast of Canada where, as a child, the main industry was the cod fishery. Incidentally, centuries ago, settlement was illegal in Newfoundland as the countries with a stake in the cod fishery (England, Spain, Portugal, France)were not prepared to have settlers gain 'custody' of the stocks. As the fall fishery (season) ended, the fishers and their families either had to return to their home country or hide in the coves and bays. Cod was actually a legal form of currency. Also an interesting tidbit of information; the Mayflower stopped into a fishing 'room' or settlement on the south coast for supplies on their way to the New World."

Fresh Cod and Potato Cakes ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Yankee Magazine


Fish Cakes

1 pound fresh cod

Juice of 1 lemon

Splash of white wine

2 cups mashed potatoes at room temperature

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup diced sweet onion

1 egg plus 1 yolk

1 small red pepper, finely diced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons salt

1 to 2 teaspoons pepper

2 teaspoons dried mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons clarified butter

Tarragon Mayonnaise

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

6 sprigs of fresh watercress

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 to 1-1/2 cups light olive oil


Fish Cakes

1) Steam cod over water to which lemon juice and white wine have been added, about 7 minutes or until it flakes.

2) Saute garlic and onion until translucent. Fold together potatoes, garlic, onion, eggs, red pepper, parsley, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently flake and mix the cod into potato mixture. Form into 16 2-ounce cakes. (If mixture is too wet, you can add fresh bread crumbs until cakes hold together.)

3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat clarified butter in a saute pan. Add cakes and fry until golden brown. Flip over, and put the saute pan into preheated oven for 5 minutes to finish. Remove from oven and serve cakes hot, topped with Fresh Tarragon Mayonnaise. Yield 16 (2-oz.) cakes.

Fresh Tarragon Mayonnaise

4) Place egg yolks and next six ingredients in a blender; blend well. On fairly high speed, slowly drizzle oil into egg mixture, until it forms an emulsified mayonnaise.

You might also like these recipes:

Haddock and Leek Fish Cakes - Really Hungry

Fish Cakes - Felice in the Kitchen

Cod Fish Cakes - Ciao Chow Linda

Salmon Fish Cakes - Christine's Recipes

Thai-Style Fish Cakes - Adora's Box

Simple Shrimp Fish Cakes - The Runaway Spoon

Salmon Patties - Las Vegas Food Adventure

Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Relish - One Perfect Bite

Cod Fish Cakes with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Fennel - Chow and Chatter

Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cakes) - Closet Cooking

Salmon Burger Recipes - Steamy Kitchen

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