Fish cakes rank right up there with meatballs in my book: Comforting. Easy. Tasty without pretension.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook fancy food, too. But you can’t do that every day. Some days are for trout cakes. Specifically, those days after you catch lots of trout. Or salmon, or whatever.
I use trout because I like the play of mild, slightly oily trout with all the herbs. Salmon is just as good, especially a pink or chum salmon. But bluefish, mackerel, or another oily fish would work, too. And I won’t get mad at you if make this with bass, catfish, crappie, etc.
While it’s not specifically necessary, I find that the best fish cakes are made with “spoon meat,” which is meat scraped off the carcass of fish before they are cooked. You can get quite a lot of meat off carcasses this way — more than a pound on a big chinook salmon. The fish will cook perfectly well in the pan. Of course, you can also use leftover fish, too.
What separates this trout cake recipe from my salmon patties or my other fish cake recipe is herbs. Lots of herbs. They are a great counterpoint to the fish, and brighten things up quite a lot. A squeeze of lemon is all you need on them.
I like eating these as-is, or with a green salad. Any leftover cakes can be reheated gently in a pan or a 300°F oven and used as a great sandwich filling with some lettuce, tomato and mayo.
These trout cakes freeze well, too. Cook them first, then freeze, tightly wrapped, for up to 6 months.
Clearly this recipe can be done with salmon, char or really any fish you want. I just like it with trout. The herbs are also open to improvisation; the combination I use is what I like. Serve these with a green salad or as the filling in a sandwich.
- 1 pound trout meat, skinless and boneless
- 1 cup minced onion
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1/4 cup chopped tarragon or dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, for frying
Cook the minced onion with the butter in a small pan over medium heat until translucent, but not browned. Remove from the pan and let cool.
Chop the trout meat with a knife into bits. You can chop very roughly and then pulse a couple times in a food processor, but you want the trout in little pieces, not as a paste.
Mix all the remaining ingredients (except the frying oil) together in a large bowl. Form cakes with your hands. I like them about the width of my palm. You will need to wash your hands a couple times to remove debris; this helps you make cleaner, nicer cakes.
Let the cakes sit in the fridge for 20 minutes or so -- this lets the breadcrumbs absorb moisture, which helps your cakes hold together.
Heat the frying oil in a large, wide pan over medium-high heat. Fry as many cakes as will fit in one layer without touching. Cook them until each side is golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. Serve hot.