Tom Gilbert's New England Salt Cod Cakes

July 12, 2016

These are wonderful when made entirely with salt cod, but out of thrift, or sometimes just for the sake of variety, you can substitute almost any white-fleshed leftover cooked fish, or even smoked fish, for some or all of the salt cod.

New England Salt Cod Cakes
Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound desalted salt cod
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 4 medium-size starchy potatoes, boiled and mashed or riced
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, grated
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 generous pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 small pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, or more as needed to bind the mixture
  • For dredging, 2 cups breadcrumbs, panko or flour
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat or butter, or more as needed for frying
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, or 1/2 cup tartar or hot sauce
  • Salt

Poach the desalted cod and bay leaf for 2 to 3 minutes in simmering water. Drain and flake cod; discard the bay leaf.

In a large bowl, mix potatoes, onion, eggs, parsley, black pepper, nutmeg and breadcrumbs.

Add flaked cod to bowl; mix all ingredients roughly by hand. The consistency should be moist but not so moist that you cannot form cakes about the size of a small hamburger that barely hold together.

Form cakes and place them on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Cover with wax paper, then cover with tin foil and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours in advance. You can cook them right away, but letting them rest in the refrigerator will help them hold together during frying.

Take cakes out of refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking. Heat bacon fat or butter in a pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat until it sizzles when you add a small piece of bread.

Dredge the fish cakes lightly in flour, unseasoned breadcrumbs or panko and fry for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are heated through and the outsides are crispy and light to medium brown. Salt to taste and serve with lemon wedges, tartar sauce or hot sauce.

Source: NPR Kitchen Window

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.