Fish Cakes with Wild Rice

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Americans tend to reject fish with more bones than they think are appropriate. This is a shame because many of these fish are fantastic to eat, once you deal with the bones. And this fish cakes recipe is a prime way to fix that problem.

Pike, especially, is a wonderful fish. Very firm, very white, as mild to eat as the fish is fun to catch. I had the opportunity to chase gigantic northerns in Manitoba a few years ago and brought a few fish home to cook with.

Finished fish cakes recipe on a plate with a green salad.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Since then I’ve made classic pickled pike, fried pike nuggets and a pike soup I dedicated to Manitoba. That left me with just enough pike to make this Midwestern-style fish cake recipe.

Oh, and you should know that you can use virtually any species for these fish cakes. Pike is just what I happened to use.

I must admit the idea to mix wild rice with a fish cake isn’t original; I developed my recipe from one I read in Midwestern Living magazine. It’s a great idea, though, as the wild rice is both native to the region and adds a bit of color and texture to the fish cakes. Just make sure you cook the wild rice completely before adding to the fish cakes, because the cakes cook up quickly.

Pike cakes are a natural because of the fish’s many bones. True, it’s not that hard to fillet a pike, and I have detailed instructions here, but it’s easier to fillet as normal, gently poach the fish in chicken broth, and then flake out the meat. This is an especially good method for other bony fish like shad, carp or little panfish.

You only need a half-pound for this recipe, so vacuum seal any extra and freeze for later. You’ll want to make these fish cakes again.

How do these fish cakes taste? Just really good. There’s no one overwhelming flavor, although you do pick up the mustard and the chives in every bite. The fish is mild, the mayo keeps everything moist and the Worcestershire and lemon just brighten things. This is good Midwestern food without the blandness that mars that region’s culinary reputation.

What’s more, they are easy to make, and can be done start to finish in 30 minutes, if you’ve precooked the wild rice — which I do. I cook a batch of wild rice, then freeze it for when I need it. Do this, and you have a light, easy, 30-minute meal. A rarity on this site.

I do fish cakes a lot, and I have some other fish cake recipes on the site, such as trout cakes, and a salmon cake based of a Chesapeake crab cake. Lots of different fish will work in these recipes.

Midwestern fish cakes on a plate with a green salad.
4.91 from 20 votes

Fish Cakes with Wild Rice

Needless to say this recipe can be done with any white fish, but if you are in the Midwest, please try to get perch, pike or walleye for this. It just seems right. Trout would also work well, here, especially Great Lakes lake trout or steelhead.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 pound cooked, flaked pike or other white fish
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1/4 cup minced onion, red if you have one
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard, Dijon if you have it
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup butter, lard or vegetable oil for cooking
  • Greens for a salad

Instructions 

  • Make sure any little bones are out of the fish. Mix everything (except the oil and salad greens) together in a large bowl. Divide the mix into 8 roughly equal parts and form into patties. If you have time, set the patties on a cookie sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. You can skip this step if you are rushed.
  • Fry the patties in the butter until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with a green salad with a nice vinaigrette, or try my saffron aioli.

Notes

If you want, you can fully cook these fish cakes, then set them on a baking sheet or plate in the freezer. Once frozen solid, put them in a freezer bag and they will be good for months. Reheat them in a toaster oven or fry them again. 

Nutrition

Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 736mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 615IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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40 Comments

  1. This is our go-to summer family favorite! We stock up on pike spring and winter so we can make these tasty cakes year-round.

  2. Wonderful recipe!!! Even my finicky eaters devoured these fish cakes. Used wild caught, then jarred trout. So good highly recommend!!!

  3. Tried these with a lake trout from Ontario. If the wild rice and fish are prepped, the dish comes together quickly. I’m suspicious the leftovers cakes will not make it to the freezer!

  4. Entire family loves these. I hand out recipe regularly. Now I have to buy real wild rice for friends to make them when I head to MN. Ketters Meats in Frazee has best. I typically make baked or boiled pike and rice night before then use leftovers to make cakes. Freeze extras for quick week night meal.

  5. I make these all the time, as they are utterly delicious and can be prepared ahead of time for a quick dinner. I use cod and they come out great. Thanks Hank!

  6. Hank, I made a version of these with some carp I caught. I’ve always been curious about that fish and the way it’s derisively viewed. I’m planning on making some pickled carp (use your pickled pike as a guide).

    The cakes were great, no muddy taste at all. The lemon and the Dijon were the most pronounced flavors, and the mustard was quite mild.

    I have some formed, but not fried left over fish cakes. Would they freeze ok? If so, any guess as to how long I could plan on keeping them in the freezer?

  7. I make these frequently and they are delicious. Usually I double the recipe, freeze the patties on a cookie sheet, then vacuum seal them in 2 packs. They thaw fast for a quick meal when I don’t feel like cooking. Thanks for another great recipe, Hank.

  8. Made with perch. Subbed quinoa for wild rice and also used less bread crumbs and more quinoa. Topped with a goat cheese aoli. It was amazing! My boyfriend (the perch fisherman) had 3 helpings. Amazing!