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.
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:
- Salmon patties, bound with crushed Saltines.
- Trout cakes, bound with breadcrumbs.
- A Midwestern fish cake, bound with cooked wild rice and some breadcrumbs.
- I also have a Mexican fish ball recipe, which can also be used as a fish cake, that uses breadcrumbs and corn masa.
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.
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.
Or hell, just douse them with your favorite hot sauce.
Potato Fish Cakes
- 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
- 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.