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"A Thirty-Minute Fish Supper" Redux: Mark Bittman's Cod Cakes with Ginger, Cilantro, and Scallions

Posted May 20 2010 2:25am
Flipping through my Mark Bittman cookbooks trying to decide what to make for this week's Potluck theme at IHCC, I ran across a recipe for Cod Cakes with Ginger and Scallions in " The Minimalist Cooks at Home. " The recipe uses mashed potatoes to bind the fish cakes, and having both cod and mash left over from yesterday's Nigel Slater's A Thirty-Minute Fish Supper post ( here ), I was able to shave a few steps off of the normal process, making for a very quick and easy dinner.

You can find the recipe in "The Minimalist Cooks at Home" (pages 75-77) or a similar version online at the New York Times site here .

Bittman says, "Between your favorite restaurant crabcake and a box of frozen fish sticks lies a world of crisp, easily produced fish cakes that make for great weeknight eating. In addition to fish When it comes to fish cakes, my preference is use mashed potatoes as a binder, in a proportion of about three parts fish to one part potato. Starchy "baking" potatoes are best for this. And if you begin with a mild fish, like cod, the flavorings can be as adventuresome as you like. hese fish cakes contain a hefty dose of ginger and cilantro, spiked with a bit of hot red pepper. The result is a zingy cake that needs no sauce whatsoever, although a squeeze of lime is a welcome addition."

Cod Cakes With Ginger, Cilantro & Scallions
Mark Bittman
(Yield 4 servings)

1 baking potato weighing about 1/2 pound
1 1/2 pounds fillet of cod or other mild, delicate white fish
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1 fresh or dried hot red chile, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
2 Tbsp chopped scallions
2 tsp peanut or other oil
Lime wedges

Boil potato in salted water to cover until it is tender but not mushy, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the fish in a skillet that can later be covered. Add water to cover, salt the water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, turn off heat, and set a timer for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fish to a bowl.

When potato is done, peel it and mash it with the fish. Add the ginger, cilantro and scallions along with some salt and pepper to taste, and work the mixture with your hands until it is well blended. Shape into 8 equal burger-shaped patties.

Preheat the broiler, and set the rack about 4 inches from heat source. Brush the patties on both sides with oil, then place on a non-stick baking sheet. Broil carefully, until nicely browned on top, then turn and brown on the other side. Sprinkle with more cilantro, and serve hot, with lime wedges.

For Pan-fried Fish Cakes: Increase the oil to 1/3 cup or more if necessary. Heat oil in a large skillet (the oil should be at a depth of about 1/16 inch) over medium-high heat. When it is hot (a pinch of the fish mixture will sizzle immediately), add the cakes. Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total.

Notes/Results: Yum! The fish cakes were crispy on the outside, tender inside, with big chunks of fish and lots of flavor and spice. (I may have gotten a bit carried away with the dried red chili!) ;-) Because I was making just a half batch of four cakes, I didn't want to bother heating the oven and just pan fried them--although I used about half the oil Bittman called for to cook them. I served the cod cakes with a simple salad of fresh, sweet Manoa lettuce with grape tomatoes, cucumber and chunks of avocado--all locally grown. The salad dressing may look a bit familiar--it's yesterday's Uplifting Green & Piquant Sauce , thinned out with a bit of oil and some brown rice vinegar and drizzled over the salad. The sauce makes a thick, creamy and delicious dressing--I knew it was going to be a favorite. I love the fact that one delicious dinner was quickly transformed into a completely different and even more delicious meal--although the cod cakes are tasty enough to cook up the fish and potatoes specifically to make them. I want to experiment using different fish and spices--I think a curry fish cake with the potatoes and some peas would be fun. Simple and delicious--I will make these again.

You can check out the Potluck creations of the other IHCC participants by going to the post here and following the links.

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