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Easy Summertime Fishcakes

Whether you’re hitting the beach or just want a quick weeknight meal, these easy fishcakes are fresh, light and satisfying.

August 28, 2017

Every summer for the past 30 (or more) years, my family packs up the station wagon and heads down to the coast for a week. This summer, it will involve three cars, six adults, two children, three dogs, four surfboards, and more snack food, clothes and swimsuits than really necessary.

In normal circumstances, my family tends to eat a lot of food. We also get a little possessive about it — so much so, that we have gone as far as labeling our food with little stickers to let others know when something is “hands off” (so no one else eats it first). When we hit the beach, something magical happens to our metabolism and digestive functions; we eat even more food. I’m not sure if it’s the salty ocean air, the hours of playing in the sand, sun and surf, or the pure joy of being on vacation. But, we eat. A LOT.

Whatever causes this glutinous indulgence — an ugly hit to both our waistlines and wallets by the time the week is done — we come prepared. We cook and freeze meals the week before our trip to maximize our beach time and minimize our kitchen time. We stop at the wholesale warehouse and load up with fruits, muffins, juices and vegetables. We also stop at, not one, not two, but three different grocery stores to get everything else. We also occasionally head out into the sleepy little beach town to dine out.

The beauty of being on the beach (besides swimming, campfires, sandcastles, and sunburns) is the abundance of fresh seafood. I’m sure one day, when the kids are old enough and we’re skilled enough, we’ll pull some fresh fish from the ocean. In the meantime, we love heading down to our favorite fish market in town.

The market is family-owned and operated. They run their own boats, catch their own fish, and sell it fresh the same day. There are pictures lining the walls of the generations donning their fishing gear, from grandparents to grandchildren. You can always count on the best, freshest, most amazing seafood to be lining the cold case. You can practically hear the ocean inside the store. Oh, wait. You can hear the ocean: it’s right out the front door.

One of our favorite beach-time indulgences is making fresh fishcakes. Whether they’re crab, halibut, cod or something else, depends on what looks best at the fish market. But, of course, this being vacation, we don’t want to work too hard. So, not only are these fishcakes delicious, they are also quick and easy.

These fishcakes take a somewhat mix-and-match approach. Start with the freshest, best-looking filet you can find. Simply bake it in the oven and let it cool (unless you’re using leftover fish from last night’s dinner — then your more than halfway through the recipe!). Gently mix it with a handful of fresh herbs (any kind will do), the zest and juice of a lemon, a bit of binder (mayo, egg, and breadcrumbs). Form it into pretty (or not-so-pretty, as the case may be) patties and voila! Dinner is served.

Herbed Fishcakes

Serves four. 

  • 2 teaspoons high-heat oil, plus additional for frying
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound cooked fish (cod, halibut, salmon, crab, etc.), chilled and flaked
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, dill, chives, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, plus additional for rolling

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook shallots, carrots, celery and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let mixture cool.

In a large bowl, gently combine vegetable mixture, fish, herbs, mayonnaise, mustard, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Be careful not to overmix. Form into eight patties. Roll chilled fishcakes in breadcrumbs to coat, lightly pressing so that they stick.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cakes until golden-brown on both sides and heated through,  about 3 to 5 minutes per side.


Jackie Freeman

Recipe developer, food stylist and culinary tinkerer, Jackie Freeman has worked in the culinary field for over 20 years as a private chef, cheesemaker, culinary instructor, recipe editor and a radio and video personality.

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