Cod and Potato Cakes

Story and recipes by Debbi Snook | Wine Commentary by Gary Twining

Fried cakes of flaky mild fish and rough-mashed potatoes are a finessed comfort food. The original from Newfoundland calls for salted, dried cod, a delicacy in itself. It also takes 3 days to de-brine. So, for lunch or brunch, try this speedier, less-salty version with a rush of herbs. It’s best to let the cakes firm up for frying by chilling thoroughly. Add Dijon mustard to serve, or the tangy condiment of your choice.

  • 1/2 pound fresh, skinless, boneless cod
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 TBS unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 pound baking potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped raw parsnip (or carrot or turnip)
  • 1/4 tsp dried savory
  • 1/2 tsp fresh or dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil

Heat oven to 275 degrees. Bake cod until it flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Cook onion in 1/2 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Peel potatoes and parsnip. Cut into 1-inch pieces and steam together in a steamer over boiling water, covered, until tender, 18-20 minutes. Add to cooked onions and coarsely mash, then cool slightly. Flake cod and stir into potato mixture along with herbs, scallion, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning, then stir in egg until just combined.

Put breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Gently form 1/4-cup scoops of cod mixture into 6 (3-inch-wide) cakes and transfer to a sheet of wax paper. Gently dredge fish cakes in breadcrumbs to coat and transfer to a wax-paper-lined tray. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. On stovetop, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Cook 3 fish cakes until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes, turning halfway through. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in middle of oven. Wipe skillet clean and cook remaining cakes, adding 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil per additional batch. Serves 4.

Gary: Cod is a lighter fish which would call for light, crisp, white wines, which will also set off the herbs in the preparation. Try a dry sparkling wine, dry Riesling, any of the crisply defined Italian whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Mâcon Villages/Pouilly-Fuissé or unoaked Chardonnay (don’t forget our Ohio and Lake Erie wines!). There are also lovely Canadian sparkling wines and whites made from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Riesling that are becoming more prominent on the shelves of our Ohio retail wine stores.


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