The star of the show is the salt cod. This bag costs me about $5. If you live in a city somewhere outside of the Maritimes, you might have to look around. You can probably make salt fish cakes with any sort of dried salt fish. You could look at Asian or Portuguese grocers.
If there are enough requests in the comments, I’ll look for some fresh cod this summer and do a post on salting your own.
Put the cod bits in a bowl, cover with cold water, and pop them in the fridge just before you head to bed. In the morning, change out the water, trying not to lose any of the little bits of cod. Around noon, change the water again.
My grandmother would have soaked them on the countertop, and maybe that’s safe? There’s enough salt in there to float a ship, after all. Still, if you have a fridge, put it in there. And if you don’t, put it in the cold cellar.
My grandmother was 64 when I was born, and her taste buds were starting to go. She couldn’t taste salt anymore.
One day she decided to make salt cod cakes for us when all of the family got together.
Well, when she soaked the cod, she tasted it about an hour in and decided that they must have salted it wrong, because it tasted too fresh. Instead of soaking it, she immediately boiled it and made the salt cod cakes.
Even with Grandma standing over us, horrified at the waste, no one could eat them. Soak your salt cod overnight, changing the water two or three times!
About two hours before you want to eat, strain the fish again. Put it, and fresh water, into a large pot, and simmer until cooked and tender. It takes about 20 minutes. Just watch – it will look different once it’s cooked. Don’t fret about this too much.
Even cooked, it will be firmer than fresh fish. Strain it in a colander.
While the fish is cooking, wash and peel about five pounds of potatoes. You can certainly peel them perfectly, but I don’t. I just remove any scabby bits. Boil and drain the potatoes.
Whichever is done first, cover it and keep it warm until the other is done. You’ll want to have them still hot.
Mash the potatoes. Don’t rice them or anything that makes them into a puree. Just mash them up with an old fashioned potato masher, and work quickly so that everything stays hot.
Combine the potatoes and cod. Grab someone with a good strong arm to mash them together.
At this point, if you like, you can diced up an onion very finely and add it. Personally, I hate bits of onion in my cod cakes, so I use a bit of onion powder. Add a bit and taste – both the potato and fish and completely cooked at this point, so it’s safe to taste.
You can also add a bit of ground black pepper, if you like.
No salt, though – you just spent a day soaking the salt out!
Here’s why it still needs to be hot – add some butter. Real butter, thankyouverymuch.
Don’t tell me I use too much butter. There is no such thing as too much butter. My grandmother would have used lard, but I think butter tastes better. And it’s only about 1/2 cup butter for what is this, a pound of cod and five pounds of potatoes?
I form them and place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. It saves a lot of cleanup.
Bread crumbs! Press the crumbs into the cakes, making sure to coat them on all sides.
I used bread crumbs that were seasoned with garlic and herbs. You can use plain crumbs if you like.
They should look like this.
Now you just need to fry them! I’m showing just one here, but who has time for that? Use the biggest skillet you have and fry as many as you can at a time. Press down the top with your spatula, and use your fingers to push the cake back together if it starts to separate.
Everything’s cooked – you’re just browning up the outsides, making it all crispy and delicious.
At this point, it’s hard not to start nibbling. Put them back on the same parchment-lined baking sheet. When they’re all done, you’ll have to put them back in the oven at 350F for a little while to warm them back up.
OR – you can line another baking sheet with parchment paper and put the cooked cod cakes on that way. If you do that, put it in the oven at 200F to keep warm.
Oh, the self-control it’s taking for me not to start gobbling these up. I LOVE a cod cake dinner.
What do you eat with cod cakes, though?
You’re going to need coleslaw. The way we make it around here is with grated cabbage, a little bit of grated carrot, and mayonnaise as a dressing.
And you’ll need tartar sauce! (Leave a comment if you don’t know how to make that, and I’ll write that up.)
Excuse me, please, it’s time for my dinner! 🙂