Irish Fish Cakes with 30 Second Tartar Sauce

Irish Fish Cakes with a homemade Tartar Sauce
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Traditional fish Cakes with homemade tartar sauce

These are traditional, old fashioned fish cakes and they’re a great example of classic Irish country cooking.  Packed with tender flakes of just barely poached cod, lots of fork-mashed russet potatoes and a smattering of lemon, ketchup and parsley, they’re fried in a cast iron skillet until crispy golden on the outside, and downright feathery inside.  They’re homey and comforting, but I think of them as a light summer meal because I always serve fish cakes on top of a pile of fresh greens, — baby arugula is my ‘green’ of choice these days — along with plenty of lemon and tartar sauce.  I’m giving you a twofer today, because the homemade tartar sauce could have been a post in itself.  Thick, rich, from scratch tartar sauce in 30-seconds.  You’re going to love me for it.

homemade tartar sauce from scratch in 30 seconds

I’m of two minds when it comes to fish and seafood cakes.  Sometimes I like to serve them with a fresh salsa, and other times, nothing but a classic mayo based tartar sauce will do.  These homey Irish cod cakes called out for the latter.  The sauce is simple, and wonderful, and I bet most of you assumed I was going to mix a few ingredients into a ready made mayo and call it homemade.  But no, this is from scratch, made just the way my 30-second mayonnaise is made, with a room temperature egg and vegetable oil as its base.  I add some dill pickles,  capers, lemon, mustard, and some salt and pepper to the jar.  It blends up instantaneously with my stick blender into a creamy tartar sauce.

classic cod cakes with homemade tartar sauce

You can play with the ratio of fish to potato in this recipe if you like.  While I usually make my fish cakes with a higher ratio of fish to other ingredients, in this case the potatoes and the cod face each other as equals.  The Irish have a deep respect and love for the potato, and who am I to argue?   The tarter sauce helps wake up the flavor and saves them from too much of a ‘nursery food’ vibe.

A platter of Irish style fish cakes with homemade tartar sauce

These keep well in the fridge and make great leftovers, you can reheat them in the skillet, (over low heat) or in the microwave.  In fact these can be made from leftovers if you’ve got extra fish and potatoes around.  Salmon would work well with this recipe, too.

finished plate of irish Fish Cakes

I’ve adapted the fish cakes from the beautiful book The Country Cooking of Ireland.

Irish Fish Cakes with 30 Second Tartar Sauce

Yield: serves 4-6

Irish Fish Cakes with 30 Second Tartar Sauce

Ingredients

    fish cakes
  • 1 lb russet potatoes
  • 1 lb cod fillet
  • 1 Tbsp spicy ketchup or chili sauce
  • a handful of minced fresh parsley
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, finely crushed (use a small food processor or a rolling pin)
  • several Tbsp vegetable oil for frying
    garnish
  • sliced green onion
  • chopped parsley
    tartar sauce
  • 1 pasteurized egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tsp capers
  • about 1/2 cup dill pickles, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks. Put them in a saucepan, cover with cold water, add 2 teaspoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are very soft.
  2. Put the cod in a shallow saute pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, and then cover, turn off the heat, and let the fish poach for about 10-15 minutes. Drain.
  3. Drain the potatoes and put them into a large mixing bowl. Use the back of a fork to mash them, leaving a little bit of texture.
  4. Add the ketchup, parsley, lemon juice, beaten eggs, and salt and pepper. Stir briefly to combine, and then add the fish, breaking it apart with your fingers as you add it. (Check for tiny bones as you do this.) I like the fish to remain fairly chunky, so don't break it apart too much. Fold the fish into the mixture until everything is evenly incorporated. It will be fairly wet.
  5. I use a 1/3 cup measure to scoop out the mixture and form into patties. Flour your hands if necessary.
  6. Roll each patty in the Ritz cracker crumbs, to coat all surfaces and set on a platter. You can cover and refrigerate the cakes at this point for later cooking if you like.
  7. Coat the bottom of a skillet (I like cast iron) with vegetable oil and heat on medium heat until hot. Fry the cakes for about 5 minutes on each side until golden, crispy, and hot throughout. Note: the cakes will be very delicate, move and flip them with extra care.
  8. Serve immediately on top of a bed of greens. I like to mix the greens with a few chopped ripe tomatoes and some thinly sliced red onion. You can add a little oil and vinegar to the salad if you like before adding the cakes.
  9. Serve lots of fresh tartar sauce and lemon wedges on the side.
  10. To make the tartar sauce: Put all the ingredients into a jar that fits the head of your immersion blender. I find that a 16 oz wide mouth mason jar is the perfect size.
  11. Set the head of the blender down at the bottom of the jar, and turn it on. Blend for a few seconds and as the sauce starts to thicken, gently raise the blender up to blend all of the contents. This will only take a few seconds. you can pulse the blender a few times to continue to thicken the tartar sauce.
  12. Remove the blender, give the sauce a stir, and taste to adjust the seasoning. Screw the cap on the jar and keep refrigerated until needed. Use within a week to 10 days.

Notes

Use a pasteurized egg for safety in the tartar sauce. You can usually find them next to the regular eggs. You can also try to pasteurize one yourself, in a microwave, instructions here

http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/irish-fish-cakes-with-30-second-tartar-sauce/
Irish Cod and Potato Cakes with homemade tartar sauce

This is very simple, satisfying fare, and one of our most oft repeated summer dinners.

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    plasterers bristol
    August 13, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    This sounds really delicious and something new to try. Thank you for sharing this.

    Simon

  • Reply
    Foodelf
    July 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

    These fish cakes were amazing. I added seafood cocktail sauce instead of ketchup and about two chopped scallions into the mix. Served with spicy aoli & sweet Thai chili sauce on the side with a generous sprinkling of capers.

    I could see bite sized ones for appetizers, too.

    I’ll be making these a lot this summer – thanks so much for the recipe, Sue.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 4, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Yay – I’m so glad you liked them – and your special touches sound great!

  • Reply
    Susan
    June 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I know that poached salmon with new potatoes and peas is a traditional 4th of July dinner, but I think that this year, I’ll make these fish cakes with a warm potato and peas side dish for our 4th supper! They look so good! Great recipe, Sue!

  • Reply
    Susan
    June 25, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve never made fish cakes with cod! These sound truly delicious and something I need to try ASAP as I think my husband and I will both love them. I make a very similar tartar sauce that we love too.

  • Reply
    Sippitysup
    June 24, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Way better than the fish sticks we ate as kids. I always felt that the fish sticks were just an excuse to eat tartar sauce. You lovely recipe(s) give me just the excuse I need to fall back in love with tartar.. GREG

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

      If you love tartar sauce Greg, you’re going to love the homemade version!

  • Reply
    Gerlinde @Sunnycovechef
    June 24, 2015 at 8:19 am

    As soon as I return home, I will make these. They look delicious and I always like to try out a new variation on fish cakes.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 24, 2015 at 8:20 am

      They are my summer comfort food, hope you enjoy them Gerlinde!

  • Reply
    Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness
    June 23, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Oh wow, I love these fish cakes. I love the fish and potato combination. And that tartar sauce sounds wonderful. I would love this.

  • Reply
    Toni | Boulder Locavore
    June 23, 2015 at 4:13 am

    These sound great Sue and I treasure The Country Cooking of Ireland. I like your options of how to change it up with salsa. A lovely summer meal.

  • Reply
    cheri
    June 22, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Sue, as usual you produced another wonderful dish, we spend our summers in Oregon on the coast and I am thinking we could probably switch out salmon, halibut or what we can get fresh at the moment. Beautiful presentation!

  • Reply
    Candace
    June 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    As soon as I saw your post I ran right out for the ingredients! We had them for dinner this evening and I must say my polish, kielbasa loving husband was dancing an Irish jig! Thanks for a great recipe, Sue!
    Cheers!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      I love nothing more than when someone runs right out and makes a dish in a post – bravo Candace! What did you think of the amount of potatoes, would you adjust that?

      • Reply
        Candace
        June 22, 2015 at 6:47 pm

        I thought the potato were fine, but then I’m Irish ;>) Perhaps add a bit more cod and then you have more cakes!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    June 22, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    These fish cakes look mouthwatering, I’d love them for dinner tonight!

  • Reply
    Diane {Created by Diane}
    June 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    OMG, I need to make these fish cakes they look great, and there is nothing better than homemade tartar sauce! Fun recipes :)

  • Reply
    Monique
    June 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I have some great leftover delicious mashed potatoes..I’ll add salmon and that’s dinner.
    Thanks! Not tonight..tomorrow..
    Fun take on tartar!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    June 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I wish I would have been the one who ate the fish cake that’s missing in picture 4. They sound/look wonderful but I’m a bit ashamed to say that I’ve never made fish cakes. Never too late, right?

  • Reply
    Abbe+@+This+is+How+I+Cook
    June 22, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I do love you for this! Fish cakes are something I’ve been wanting to make for awhile. When I was in SAF every menu had fishcakes on them. For some reason you don’t see them much here and they are so good and there are so many varieties. Thanks, Sue!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 22, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I know what you mean, fish cakes aren’t on a ton of menus, but they should be! I do a lot of variations on the blog, and I’m always looking for new ones, it’s one of those recipes that’s a lot of fun to play around with…thanks for stopping by Abbe.

  • Reply
    victoria mcauliffe
    June 22, 2015 at 10:50 am

    My gosh this sound’s wonderful!! I’m changing it up tho, just for today..I’ve some salmon left from dinner last nite my Irish mother may not approve but it’s worth the try. Fresh lettuce from my garden with a few grape tomatoes and your tartar sauce dinner should be heaven after work!!!!! Thank you

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

      ooooh, now I’m feeling jealous…when we lived in New Hampshire our local fish shop had the most amazing salmon and potato pie…

  • Reply
    Yolie
    June 22, 2015 at 10:19 am

    This looks delicious! I’m going to make them today! What are pasteurized eggs? Can I substitute my natural, cage free, grain fed brown eggs? If not, then I would love to know the science behind it.
    I love learning new things!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 22, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Pasteurized eggs are just heated very briefly to a high enough temperature to reduce any risk of food borne illness. I recommend them because regular eggs can, rarely, cause a problem if consumed raw. If you have your own eggs I think you’re fine to use them – and I’m jealous :)

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's+Recipes
    June 22, 2015 at 8:47 am

    This is my kind of meal! I must try your quick tartar sauce.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    June 22, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Sue – this is speaking to me because you know I adore all things Irish, and fish, and potatoes, and that tartar sauce sounds fresh and wonderful. I still have not made my own mayonnaise but all these recipes sound perfect. Love these fish cakes – pinning and sharing!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 22, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Once you get started on the homemade mayo it’s hard to turn back. It’s like magic :)

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    June 22, 2015 at 7:32 am

    I love fish cakes and your 30 second tartar sauce sounds like the perfect choice!

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