Potato Fish Cakes

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There are two main ways to prepare fish cakes: with breadcrumbs or potato. Here’s how to make fantastic potato fish cakes with whatever fish or seafood you have around.

Three potato fish cakes on a plate with remoulade sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I’ll be honest: I decided to make these potato fish cakes because I had leftovers from my recipe for English fish pie with leeks. That recipe has a mashed potato topping, and mashed potatoes are what you need for these cakes.

You can make them specially for this recipe, or use leftover mash; incidentally, mashed yams or sweet potatoes work, too.

Texturally, potato fish cakes are softer and homier than fish cakes made with other binders. Not better, per se, but different. I have other fish cake recipes on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook that are bound differently:

Egg is important here because it helps keep everything together. You can make potato fish cakes without egg, but they are way more delicate.

Fish for Potato Fish Cakes

Short version: Anything that flakes, or you want to chop.

My preference here, to kick things up a bit, is to use flaked leftover fish, or fish gently poached in stock or water or white wine or lager beer; some flaked smoked fish (smoked trout or smoked shad are ideal), and, if I happen to have some, crabmeat.

Yes, that’s super fancy, but it’s also super good.

The fish that spring to mind for potato fish cakes are flaky, white, and mild: panfish, crappie, bass, flounder, snapper, walleye, perch, sheepshead, Pacific rockfish, porgy, black seabass — that sort of thing.

And yes, I like them with 100 percent crab, too.

Breaking open a potato fish cake that has some crab in it.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Green Things

I like herby fish cakes, so I always add whatever fresh herbs are in my garden at the time. Parsley is a must, as are garlic chives, regular chives or green onions, but you do you.

Other great options include: chervil, lovage, Mexican oregano, regular oregano, savory, cilantro, rosemary or celery leaves.

Sauces for Potato Fish Cakes

I served these with a New Orleans-style remoulade, the recipe for which you can find in my recipe for fried snapper. But your sauce can be anything from ketchup or mustard or bottled horseradish, to slightly more elaborate sauces.

Some other great options — and those recipes are all in the hotlinks — would be Alabama white sauce, saffron aioli, Cajun remoulade, Mississippi comeback sauce, or homemade tartar sauce.

Or hell, just douse them with your favorite hot sauce.

Closeup of three potato fish cakes on a plate.
4.60 from 15 votes

Potato Fish Cakes

I normally use leftover mashed potatoes for this recipe, but if you want to know how I make my mashed potatoes, they are in this recipe. Any mashed potato recipe you like will do.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: American, British
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
  • 1 pound cooked, flaked fish (smoked or fresh, or crab)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced celery leaves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour or fine cornmeal, for dusting (optional)
  • Oil for frying

Instructions 

  • Set your oven to "warm" and put a cooling rack set over a baking sheet in the oven. Mix all the cake ingredients together in a large bowl. I make pretty smooth mashed potatoes, so there aren't lumps. If you have lumpy mashed potatoes, you might want to crush them with your fingers.
  • Form into patties of whatever size you like. I prefer about 2 to 3 tablespoons, up to 1/4 cup. But even 1/2 cup fish cakes are nice. Set them in the fridge for a few minutes to set.
  • Heat enough oil to come halfway up the fish cakes (you'll need to guess on this one), and bring the oil to between 325°F and 340°F. You don't want things super hot here.
  • Fry the cakes, making sure they don't touch each other, over medium-high heat, until they are nicely browned — about 2 minutes per side without a dusting of flour or cornmeal, about 3 minutes with it. Set the finished cakes on the rack in the oven.
  • Serve with the sauce of your choice, a salad, and a glass of white wine or a beer.

Notes

If you skip the cornmeal or flour, the cakes will brown very quickly, so you will have to watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Nutrition

Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 554mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 161IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg

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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24 Comments

  1. Hi there, Thanks for this easy and wonderful recipe. I was never sure on the amount of potato to fish but now I am all set. It is spring and my chives are coming up lovely, I am going to make some today,

  2. I’d also like to remark, that if you cook up Tilapia with PF Chang’s- teriyaki sauce and some butter on the griddle and flake it up and throw that into the mix it makes for a pretty good Asian style mixture… Thank You! again Mr.Hank- Shaw, for Being a Great Man. And your Contribution in someone’s Life.

    Your Friend,
    Rudy- Jesus, Barajas…

  3. Quick Question If I do the Recipe at 1 X How many fish cakes ? did it make for you? I plan on making this tonite for me and my fiancée. This sounds amazing! My mom used to make them all the time and I haven’t had one in years.

    1. John. I’ve had this happen before (twice) and have determined that the amount of butter in the leftover mashed potatoes can cause the ‘fish cake collapse’. I’ve since tried it again in an air fryer (without oil to fry) and they have come out extremely well. I used a simple egg dip (no extras) and panko bread crumbs. Worth another go.

  4. Made this recipe without flour or cornmeal dusting because, well, I forgot I didn’t have flour. Tested one on the heat in the pan. (Something my mom always did). Turned out too brown too quickly, and I knew the oil temperature needed to be reduced

  5. Hank, I’ve followed you for over a year now, love your writing!
    Your recipe for fish cakes is nearly identical to mine. I’m in Maine, worked in the the seafood industry for years and around the waterfront as well. I love to add a couple of teaspoons of Dijon mustard to mine! And or roasted garlic…
    When I worked in a marine store on the Portland waterfront, I was frequently gifted free fresh fish or shellfish ??, and I kept an electric frypan in our tiny kitchen. Inevitably, I’d make fish cakes with, haddock, swordfish, shrimp, scallops or lobster! If a fisherman brought me anything, he’d be back w friends in an hour for the results… best free restaurant in Portland, Maine! Potatoes are an excellent binder, and codfish cakes here usually have potatoes…

  6. Reading through your fish cake bio was akin to watching my Swedish folk prepare supper using every bit of leftovers from a day or two.
    I appreciate that you are wondrous and creative with a flair for umami in word and deed.
    Whenever I am looking for information, inspiration, real world foodie stuff… I look you up. Thanks!

      1. MaryAlice: I would make them all the way to the frying step, fry them halfway, then cool on a rack, then freeze on a cookie sheet or plate. Once totally frozen, I’d put in a freezer bag. To reheat, I’d either thaw and refry, or cook in a toaster oven at about 400F.

  7. oh hell yes-
    this is awesome, as is the fish pie–nothing beats british meat and/or fish pies..(ok the scandinavians do it well too, especially the fish.)
    and nothing beats the combo of fish and potato and hearty herbs. just perfect-
    thanks, tak, Hank!

  8. I’m not really clear on the oven part. is that an alternative to frying? how long and at what temperature do you bake them if you don’t fry them?

    1. Piroska: Step 4. Once you’ve fried a batch, put them on that rack in the oven to keep warm while you make the rest.

    1. JMF: Well, tartar sauce is nice, so is any hot sauce. I have recipes on this site for parsley sauce, which will work, aioli is a good one, too. So is remoulade.

  9. My grandmother would make codcakes when we were successful catching cod in Puget Sound. A great childhood food memory that I have never been able to recreate successfully. Now perhaps I can. Of course, the best part of it was half the time we hooked a cod a dogfish shark would grab the cod, make a mess of all the lines we had out and drag us around the bay until grandpa cut the line!

  10. One of my favorite quick go to dinners! Mine are Salmon-Tofu patties. I use canned salmon and a firm local tofu that I like. Otherwise very similar to your recipe. I dust them in panko prior to frying. I have used potatoes instead of tofu when I need to.