After experimenting for a week with different renditions of fish cakes, I found that these easy cakes can be quite wonderful, or they can be as dry as cardboard. It came down to two variations… what kind of fish was used, and how thoroughly the fish was broken down in the mixing process. This post explains how the best fish cakes differ from the mediocre and the worst fish cakes. Included are 2 great dipping sauces!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
The Good Fish Cakes:
Inspired by one of Gordon Ramsey’s shows, I first made the fish cakes with fresh-frozen fish filets. I used a mix of catfish and cod (he used black cod, but I used the filets I happened to have in the freezer). They turned out wonderful. They were flaky, tender and mellow in flavor, which was enhanced by a spicy chile sauce and a tangy tartar sauce.
The Horrible Fish Cakes:
My diet partner in crime (aka husband) thought they were a little too mellow and might be better with tuna. So, being the accommodating sort, I tried it with canned tuna. They were so dry they were almost inedible! I thought maybe it was because I used too much tuna, or because it was processed in the blender for too long.
The Marginal Fish Cakes:
Based on the above hypothesis (too much fish and too much blending), I tried again, only this time with canned salmon and no blender action. They were marginally better than the cardboard, but still terribly dry. I think the texture of the canned fish is just so meaty from being packed and compressed into cans that it is difficult for the tender nature of the fish to come through. I have made crab cakes with canned crab before, and they were pretty good, but the crab is packed into the cans much more loosely. And even with the loose packing, the crab cakes didn’t hold a candle to the fresh-frozen filet cakes.
How to Make Spicy Fish Cakes as Low Carb Recipe
The recipe below was made with panko, which is not slow carb compliant. If you want to make a similar recipe that substitutes almond meal or ground chicharrones for a slow carb version, click here.
Spicy Fish Cakes with 2 Dipping Sauces (tartar or spicy)
- 2 Tbsp Refined olive oil refined olive oil has higher smoke point than extra virgin
- 2 lbs. skinless fish filets I used catfish and cod; cut into small pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp scallions sliced thinly on an angle
- 3 Tbsp Italian parsley leaves chopped
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chipotle powder (or any spicy chile powder)
- squeeze of fresh lime juice I used juice from 1/2 medium lime (2-3 wedges)
- 1/4 tsp fish sauce
- 3/4 cup Panko crumbs *note: not slow carb compliant
Best Tartar Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise olive oil based
- 3 Tbsp capers
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp chopped dill pickles finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp chopped scallions
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Spicy Dipping Sauce
- 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce provides salty umami
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar more mellow than other vinegars
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice juice from 1/2 lime
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chopped green chile pepper your favorite in terms of heat (anaheim to jalapeno to serrano)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
- Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mash together with fork or hands until well blended (alternatively, you can combine in blender fitted with blade attachment and just pulse lightly about 5 pulses – do not overblend!). What you are aiming for is a mixture of small, medium and large chunks of fish.
- Using your hands, form small balls of the fish mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick and about 2-3 inches in diameter (about 1/3 cup each).
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large skillet (cast iron if you have it), until lightly smoking (about 3 minutes). Place patties in skillet starting at 6:00 direction and moving clockwise, so you remember which ones to turn over first. Do not crowd the patties; leave a little room between each one.
- Cook patties until browned and crispy on one side (about 5 minutes). Do not move them around while they are browning. Flip, starting at the 6:00 fish cake, and brown about 3 minutes or less on the other side
- Remove the fish cakes to a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Add more oil to skillet if needed and repeat process with remaining patties.
- Combine dipping sauce ingredients in bowl and stir until thoroughly blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
The Slow Carb Diet is my low carb lifestyle of choice, and I am definitely benefiting from it, but I am trying to incorporate more fish as the proteins. To make these fish cakes slow carb compliant, you need to eliminate the panko. The recipe was good even without the panko in it, but it was harder to work with.
Here is a low carb way of making fish cakes using almond meal rather than panko.